Oldtime Tradition

Created by Steve Buckley, for 18 years, the Oldtime Baseball Game has been a charity game that showcases local talent — and old time uniforms. Vintage baseball is hardly new. This summer, the Oldtime Baseball Game continues to honor the national pastime.

Oldtime Baseball Game
Oldtime players (from left) Alex Lee, James Greeley and Sam Shaughnessy of Yawkey’s Brighton Braves.

The Oldtime Baseball Game has remained loyal to its mission of offering a glimpse of what it was like in the old days, when hundreds of fans would turn out to root for their “town” team in various local semipro leagues. Just like back then, hundreds of fans showed up at St. Peter’s Field in Cambridge, MA for a peek into the past.

One of the things that makes the Oldtime Baseball Game special is the dazzling collection of flannel uniforms that represent virtually every era in baseball history – used just once a year, and then returned to storage. The uniforms include such long-ago teams such as the Boston Braves, St. Louis Browns, Brooklyn Dodgers, Kansas City Monarchs, Homestead Grays and many more.

Players from the game are chosen from colleges and universities around Boston, with an occasional high school player or retired big-leaguer added to the mix. This year, Boston Red Sox alumni and fan favorite Lou Merloni even played some third base. It was interesting to learn how a roster spot came together for some players.

Kevin Salines of Melrose plays summer ball in the Yawkey League for the Malden Bulldogs. Salines got into the game for the first time this year because somebody he works with is a nephew of Steve Buckley, one of the event’s organizers.

“I’m playing with the Cienfuegos Elephantes, some Cuban team. Luckily it’s a pretty good uniform.”

Luis Tiant, Sr., father of the former Red Sox great, starred for the Elefantes back in the 1940’s.

As I was speaking to Salines, his coach swung by and informed him that he was going to bat leadoff and play shortstop. I congratulated Kevin, and asked him what his approach to leading off the game would be.

“The first one I like, I’m going to swing at it. I just need to be aggressive up there.”

Salines walked on a full count, and ultimately scored the game’s first run.

Sam Shaughnessy of Newton plays for the Brighton Braves in the Boston Yawkey League. He is currently the record holder for playing in the most games, with nine, and was sporting a 1920’s Detroit Stars Uniform.

“I have the record for the most played in. I think I also have the lowest batting average for qualified at bats. When I was 14, I first volunteered to help out with the event. I was a little over-matched back then, striking out every at bat.”

That was not the case this year, as Shaughnessy who has played college ball at Boston College had a few hits, including a homerun that ultimately led to his team capturing an 9-6 victory. For this performance, Shaughnessy earned the game’s Most Valuable Player honors.

The Oldtime Game marked Shaughnessy’s last game of 2011, as his Brighton Braves concluded their Yawkey season the night before.

“After this, it’s just a lot of co-ed slow pitch softball to finish off the summer – which isn’t exactly the same.”

Another player who found his way into the game was Shane O’Leary. O’Leary recently graduated from Catholic Memorial and will play baseball at Merrimack College next year. He was able to join the Oldtime Baseball roster because his father who is a police officer was stationed in the right place at the right time.

“My dad actually met Mr. Buckley at a Bruins game at The Garden. He ended up talking to him and got me into the game.”

O’Leary wore the minor league uniform of Joe DiMaggio from when he played with the San Francisco Seals and put togteher a 61-game hit streak in 1933. Asked if he’d be able to keep the hit streak alive:

“Ya, let’s hope so. I’m just going to have a good time and play baseball. It’s what I love to do.”

Then there is Scott Isaacs who runs and plays for the Boston Men’s Baseball League’s Hyde Park Orioles, and is also producer for NewsCenter 5. He got into the game because of his ties to the sports industry, and not necessarily because he remains a hot prospect. He claims that because he’s 33-years old, he’s way too old to be playing with these younger kids. Isaacs was sporting a 1937 San Diego Padres uniform that Ted Williams used to wear when he was in the Pacific Coast League.

“It’s a ton of fun to dress up in an old-school wool uniform on a very hot summer day. That’s what they did back in the day, so that’s what I’ll need to do. Plus, it’s the only uniform that would fit me!”

Isaacs considers himself fortunate enough to have done stories on many of the players in the Oldtime Game through his work with Channel 5.

“These guys are for the most part the cream of the college crop. There’s a lot of good talent. Everybody plays hard. It’s very competitive because there will be a couple of scouts here, and the media. Everybody wants to look good. We’ll see a lot more hustle and effort and than people might think, because everybody wants to make a good impression – except me (he joked).”

Proceeds from this year’s Oldtime Baseball Game supported the C2 Mission, a Foundation created to benefit children and families affected by Cerebral Palsy and Cystic Fibrosis. Isaacs added:

“For me, this game is chance to help raise money for a good cause, get to look really cool in my really old wool uniform, and see if I can still keep up with these young studs throwing heat who are in a lot better shape than I am.”

Isaacs summed up the game perfectly.

“It’s probably the best field in town, I’d say, and when you have fans lined up the sidelines it’s really special. Not even Fenway Park has an atmosphere like that.”

Video below: Scott Isaacs of the Boston MSBL’s Hyde Park Orioles at Steve Buckley’s 18th Annual Oldtime Baseball Game at St. Peter’s Field in Cambridge, MA.

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