‘Play Ball!’ Is the Cry Once Again at Abraham’s Path

"Marcello Masonry defeated the Sag Harbor Fire Department 24-3.”
Among those happy to be back at Terry King are, from left, Earl Hopson, Ray Wojtusiak, Sonny Sireci, and Joe Sullivan. Jack Graves

Men’s slow-pitch, in the form of a 10-team league divided into two divisions, has returned to the Terry King ball field in Amagansett following an absence of five years. 

The death notice appeared in these pages in July of 2013, though it was reported in the same story that “resurrection someday is not entirely out of the question.”

That day, thanks largely to Ray Wojtusiak and Andy Tuthill, has come. Play — one game per night to begin with — began this past week, with Marcello Masonry, the Thirsty Bubs, and Uihlein’s coming up winners.

“It’s too early to say who the favorites might be,” said Rich Schneider, the league’s spokesman, “though Marcello Masonry defeated the Sag Harbor Fire Department 24-3.” Marcello followed up on Monday with a win over the Thirsty Bubs.

While the league in Amagansett has revived — there were 14 teams in 2005, though 10 is, Schneider agreed, a healthy number — the Montauk wood bat league, in which a number of the former Amagansett players competed, has not suffered. To the contrary, that league, put together by Mike Ritsi, has seven teams in it. Play was to have begun at the Hank Zebrowski field in Montauk Tuesday evening. Ritsi said in an email that there’d been talk of having the respective champions play each other in a series at the end of the season. 

Then, too, there is the women’s league, a four-team one that is to begin play at Terry King on June 19, for a grand total of 21 slow-pitch softball teams here.

The Terry King ball field, where Little League games are also played — and where summer league baseball teams are to practice as well — has been entirely redone.

It was not always so. “Before Monday night’s clash between the league’s top two teams, defending-champion Schenck Fuels and CfAR, was spent filling in a deep hole in shallow center field so that fielders would not risk injury,” a July 12, 2012, story in these pages began. 

“That bit of deferred maintenance — it took three or four full buckets of dirt from the woods abutting the field to fill it — could serve as an apt metaphor for this season: The five-team league, which once numbered 14 in two divisions, has fallen on hard times. . . .”

“It looks nice now,” said Schneider, who describes himself these days as an umpire consultant. “The base paths can be adjusted, depending on whether it’s Little League or softball, the infield is well manicured, the fencing is new, though I’m not sure whether it’s higher or lower than it was before. . . . They’re using one kind of metal bat now, the one they use in the Travis Field tournament, and the ball is the same one they use in that tournament.”

Fans behind home plate are no longer in an entirely fenced-off area, though Schneider, who will be umping more games in Montauk than in Amagansett, where Matt Bennett will hold sway, said he thought there was no reason for alarm. 

“We’ll still get our share of verbal abuse,” Bennett said, with a smile, before Monday night’s game between Marcello Masonry and the Thirsty Bubs began. 

The teams playing in Montauk are Liars’, Shagwong, Gig Shack, the Sharks, Fort Pond Lodge, Hard Candy, and the Leftovers. In Amagansett they are Marcello Masonry, Corner Bar, Thirsty Bubs, Sag Harbor Fire Department, and East Hampton Fire Department in the Y Division, and Montauk Rugby, Uihlein’s, Harold McMahon Plumbing, McGuire Landscaping, and Wainscott Landscaping in the X Division.

“Everyone in both leagues will make the playoffs,” said Schneider.