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Cobb, Clemente, Candela...

Mays, Maranville, Marmor...

Thumbs Up! - Whitecaps Celebrate First Tournament Win: (bottom row, l. to r.) B. Brown, D. Marmor, R. Rivera, G. Bechtold, D. Marx; (middle row, l. to r.) M.P. Sauvigne, J. Patrick, J. Gambino, J. Paisner, B. Candela, T. Davis, B. DeJarnett, J. Marx; (top row, l. to r.) coach D. Paisner, coach J. Marx.

To the long list of legendary names enshrined in Cooperstown we must now add a dozen more, as the Port Washington Whitecaps left their mark on the sleepy upstate town for the second straight summer.

The Whitecaps, an independent youth baseball team, competed in the premier Cooperstown Dreams Park tournament with 48 other teams from around the country, from Aug. 20 through Aug. 26, and while they didn't take the first place trophy, they played an impressive brand of baseball that captured the hearts of local fans. Once again, the boys didn't have the resources, facilities, climate or gene pool to contend with powerhouse clubs from California and Florida, but they had the drive to compensate. The team made a statement in the opening night skills competition, before a crowd of nearly 3,000, with a sixth-place finish in the nine-man around-the-horn competition, placing them in the mix with the tournament's touted elite squads, and serving notice to all comers that they came to play.

The 'Caps took that momentum into the first morning of the schedule, notching the first hit of the tournament, a rope off the bat of Jake ("Pistol") Paisner while the national anthem was still being played on the main field. That hit led to the tournament's first run, as Bobby ("Beep Beep") Candela crossed the plate on a bases-loaded walk to Joey ("Glove") Gambino, but the team could not contain the mighty bats of the Bakersfield Bullets of California and fell to one of the tournament favorites. In the second game, however, the team rebounded against a formidable Massapequa squad with an 8-2 victory, behind the complete game pitching of Johnny ("Bullseye") Marx, and the offensive firepower of Mark Patrick ("Slam") Sauvigne, Billy ("Bad News") Brown, Candela and Marx, who drove home three runs to help his own cause.

McCovey, Musial, Marx...

Bench, Banks, Brown...

Seaver, Stargell, Sauvigne...

The boys awoke on the second morning of play in the top third of the standings, with a 1-1 record and a stingy runs-against average, but it was a tough day from there. Against a national touring team from Alabama called The Boys of Baseball, the 'Caps managed only two runs, despite the potent hitting of Joseph ("Fish") Patrick. The game was black-marked by a tournament-ending injury to third baseman Sauvigne, who broke his leg in a collision at third, trying to tag out the opposing baserunner on a steal. In the follow-up contest, against the Jersey Comets, the 'Caps took their time getting their minds off their injured teammate and into the game. They looked up in time to mount a last-licks rally that nearly tilted the game their way. A walk and a steal by Brown got the rally going, and a ground-rule double by Gus ("Goose") Bechtold brought the 'Caps within three. With no one out, Bechtold on second and the Whitecaps trailing 9-6, Rob "Bam Bam" Rivera slashed a fierce line drive to the gap in left-center; the Comets' left fielder charged to his left, dove, and snared the ball at his shoe-strings for a "play-of-the-week" catch. Gambino kept the inning alive with a single, but the rally fizzled.

Paige, Palmer, Paisner...

Brock, Berra, Bechtold...

Ruth, Robinson, Rivera...

On the third day of play, the team was held scoreless by the top-ranked SVC Badgers of California. Bradley ("Hit Man") DeJarnett pitched a strong complete game for the 'Caps, who were led defensively by Bechtold, who recorded a stunning eight put-outs in center field, with a half-dozen additional chances on singles up the middle and to the outfield gaps. The second contest, a nighttime affair against a dominant RV Knights squad, saw the Whitecap bats once again quieted by top-flight pitching. Tom ("Thunder") Davis supplied some top-flight pitching of his own to keep the one-sided game going into the sixth and final frame, while ("Dangerous") Dan Marmor dazzled with two strong defensive plays and a hard-hit single up the middle in the second.

Gehrig, Gibson, Gambino...

Perry, Pennock, Patrick...

Dean, Doerr, DeJarnett...

The fourth day was lost to rain, but the 'Caps rebounded on Day Five for a strong finish, after a disappointing 3-1 loss to the New Canaan Red Sox, with Marx on the hill. Once again, a last-inning rally fell short. With the bases loaded and one out, Patrick stroked a single to left, scoring Rivera and igniting hope on the Whitecaps bench, but the momentum ended there.

In the team's eighth and final game, the boys put it all together with a 10-5 victory over the Norton (Mass.). Ospreys, behind the pitching-by-committee of DeJarnett, Paisner, Candela and Patrick. One of the highlights of the game was the recording of the team's sixth put-out on an attempted steal, when catcher Brown nailed an Osprey at third, to place the 'Caps among the tournament leaders. (In earlier contest, Paisner had thrown out four opposing baserunners from behind the plate, and Bechtold one.) Another highlight was the appearance of clubhouse manager David ("Secret Weapon") Marx in the starting line-up; Marx's walk in the top of the second made him the youngest player in tournament history (eight years, five months and 13 days) to reach base safely in the 12 and under division.

Perhaps the biggest thrill of all came in knowing that, for all but four teams, the once-in-a-lifetime experience of playing on these fields of dreams was now a memory. Due to a scheduling glitch caused by the previous day's rain, the Port-Norton game was the last scheduled contest before the closing-night championship between two teams from Southern California - leaving the Whitecaps as the only team other than the eventual champions to close the tournament with a victory.

In all, the Whitecaps played with grit and poise against some of the best young baseball players in the country - proving to themselves and their proud supporters, that they too deserve to be considered in the top ranks, and letting it be known that, by any name, they will be heard from again.


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