Saturday, July 2, 2011

Game Cancelled, Trenton Police Activity

Just a Little Bit DANGEROUS

Some things cannot be believed. No, no, no... Cancelling the North Trenton Little league game last Thursday over the potential of violence is without merit. Potential-Smotential. So what if there was police activity with shots fired near Al Downing Field in the Martin Luther Complex a few days before the scheduled June 30 game. Be clear, there was no gun play on the field, not a single shot fired. Not on the field itself!

The string of shootings and known drug dealing in the area around the Complex is just city living. Lilly livered 'burbers think that the pop-pop-pop of a Glock is worrisome. Surely, there's an rare innocent taken down by errant lead, but an acorn in free fall from 60 feet up is quite a missile, too. And it was a doubled dubbed 'burb team, Cranbury-Plainsboro, and a scared schiatt-less Little League coordinator, David Koehler, who turned punk-tukis .

With due deliberation DK declared, "No game in North Trenton!!!"

"Whew", went C-P.

The North Trenton team has been living and playing in the environs and surroundings of Al Downing (learn about Al below), all along, without consequence and in safety. By moving the game from the city site to Six-Eleven Field in Hamilton Township, David Koehler, was insuring the safety of the Trentonians' opponent squad, C-Plainsboro. Ever been to Cranbury, NJ or to Plainsboro, NJ? Ever been to North Trenton? Use a bit of imagination, he-he... Well, for starters, there are far fewer oak trees in Trent's town.

Hamilton, the proposed neutral, SAFER site, is a surrounding Trenton township. It is a place where people, who used to live in the Capital City, have moved over time. The exodus to this suburb began in the 1950's and 60's. Considered a better place to raise kids, a place with nicer weather and no air pollution, Hamilton is safe. No gun play, no crime, no murders and no gangs; the area is a veritable asylum. Folks there don't speed or California roll. With a divorce rate of 1.567%, families are nuclear and all units could be surnamed Nelson!

So the Trenton team forfeited the game to Cran-Boro. Refusing to give up their home field advantage and not understanding why the Cran-weenies could not travel into the city, the team held a final practice and an impromptu game at Al Downing Field in lieu of the contest. It must be told that during an infield drill a car triple backfired.

Danny in middle

The players dove to the ground into a flounder position. They then serpentined across the diamond to the home dugout. Danny Menella, a North Trenton Little League President (1957-60) and homer, began the tradition of making the home team dugout double as a bunker. The dugout remains a fortified, bomb and bullet proof spot of safety to this day. Once in the refuge, safety walls were pulled forwards enclosing the team, snugly. Manager Colvin, who was Kevlar vested, calmly walked to the bunker, unfazed by the backfiring Buick. Presumably, he lives near the MLK Complex.

Once the coast was clear and the rancorous old car moved down Paul Avenue, the team took to the field again. And they played ball, just like all of the other North Trenton kids have played ball there for more than last sixty years...

Well, the Cran-apples and David Koehler must have known that the Al Downing visitor's dugout is just that, a dugout. Without fortified walls, short wave radios, internet access and light weapons, the visitors at Al Downing are without a safe zone in times of urban upheaval and gun brio. Just think what would have happened IF the car backfired during the now long gone play-off game? While the homers slithered towards their bunker to safety, the visitors would have just stood, erect, mouths agape, targets. Yikes!!! (Although it didn't actually happen, the site of a baseball team suddenly floundering and slithering is shocking.)

Well, it is hoped that there are lessons learned from this pickle or, as the locals say, this pork roll (ah, Trenton Pork Roll).

  • All Little League players should be taught serpentining
  • The flounder dive must be practiced
  • Bullet proof vests should be worn by everyone, even the visiting team
  • Dugouts, both Home and Visitors, should be built as bunkers and weaponized
  • Guns and gun play are AMERICAN traditions, remember the Second Amendment
  • Don't be afraid of your own shadow
  • Don't be a weenie

Well, this season is over... But there's always next. Maybe the Trentonians can visit Cranbury-Plainsboro, there, in the suburbs. And see how the acorn falls in Eden. Whee...

E cosi va

Fun facts about Al Downing:

-A native of Trenton, NJ, Al briefly attended Rider University before signing with the Yankees in 1961.

-In his first pro season, he blew away the competition in Class A Binghamton (9-1, 1.84 ERA) to earn a brief trial in the majors at age 20.

-Arrived in the Bronx on a regular basis in 1963, when he went 13-5 with a 2.56 ERA in 24 games (22 starts). Completed 10 starts, tossed four shutouts, and led the American League with 8.8 strikeouts per 9 innings and only 5.8 hits allowed per 9 innings.

-DOB June 28, 1941

-His greatest performance may have been in the first game of a twinbill on August 25, 1963. He retired the first 20 White Sox batters in order before Tony Kubek booted a Dave Nicholson grounder. Jim Lemon followed with a walk before Downing wriggled out of the threat. The no-hit bid ended with a Ron Hansen single to lead off the eighth, but the Pale Hose couldn't mount any real offense. The Yankee pitcher ended the day with a shutout on two hits, one walk, and 13 strikeouts.

-Al had a second straight 13-win season in 1964 and paced the A.L. with 217 strikeouts. Unfortunately, his 120 walks were also the most in the junior circuit.

-Earned his only All-Star berth in 1967, when he went 14-10 with a 2.63 ERA. Injuries the following season pushed him out of the Yankee rotation.

-After posting a 5-13 record with a 3.52 ERA for the Athletics and the dreadful Brewers in 1970, Downing was named National League Comeback Player of the Year in 1971. That year he was the Dodgers' ace with a 20-9 record and a 2.68 ERA along with a league-high 5 shutouts. He finished third behind the great Fergie Jenkins and Tom Seaver in Cy Young voting.

-Most latter-day fans know Al as the answer to the trivia question "Who allowed Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run?". The pitcher once quipped that if anyone ever asked him the time, he would say "quarter after seven" rather than "seven-fifteen".

-Though he was effective for most of his seven years in Los Angeles, his innings count gradually dwindled and he won only 26 games in total after his outstanding 1971 campaign. In parts of 17 seasons, he was 123-107 with a 3.22 ERA (106 ERA+).

-Downing has also worked in broadcasting, primarily with the Dodgers.

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