WASHINGTON, Conn. – In the end it wasn’t Shepaug’s day, not by a long shot. But from the beginning it was every bit a Shepaug day.
I decided to challenge the rain’s relentless effort to dominate the days Wednesday (May 3) and fired up the chariot for a ride to Washington Primary School and take in the baseball battle for first place in the Berkshire League between Shepaug and Nonnewaug.
After all, what better place to watch a big baseball game than at Washington Primary School where the Spartans do their diamond business. I mean, what’s not to like. The place and the program are steeped in historical significance. The team plays on Ted Alex Field, named after the legendary former coach. When not on the field they spend their time in the Dave Werkhoven dugout, another legendary coach.
Behind the outfield fence is the softball field better known as Dick Ayer field, named after, yep you guessed it another legendary coach. Being at a Shepaug game involves more than a tad of historical sports brilliance.
The coaches are essential ingredients in the bigger picture – the program. The greatest program in BL history and a major player on the state stage. At one time in this extended area it was Shepaug in the BL and Naugatuck in the NVL. Kings of the diamond with no argument. Certainly that is no longer definitive but numbers tell tales, wonderful tales. Five state titles, 12 state finals, a stadium full of Berkshire League titles, a 955-383 program record, major leaguers. Triumph and tragedy. You get it all on a Shepaug Day. You don’t escape it and if you do, pick up the quality Shepaug Baseball Program that is an admirable testament to the magic. Soak it in.
Throw in the bucolic setting. Tree-lined, leaf dominated with the Shepaug River not far away. The brick primary school off the first side. You almost expect to see a kid with a fishing pole and no shoes heading to the river with a big bass on his mind. Somewhere Norman Rockwell is salivating, wondering how he can get his canvas and art supplies there to add to his collection. There is a comfort here, away from the world with baseball, young people on a sunny afternoon. It’s the comfort of your living room recliner and you want to freeze frame it.
And it all comes with special Shepaug touches. People sitting on the tailgates of their turned around pickup trucks. The oohs and ahhs after another hood has been assaulted by a foul ball. The traditional (maddening for the opposition) of blowing horns after the Spartans do something good. Folks young and old with their dogs and baseball passions.
On this day Nonnewaug took care of the baseball action. Emphatically in no-doubt fashion. They sent peas around the park and out of the park to the tune of an 11-0 thrashing and took control of the BL race. For the Spartans the weather cooperated, the opposition had no designs on being nice.
But in the Norman Rockwell world the final score wasn’t the final say although assuredly the Spartans and their faithful didn’t exactly head home singing Pharell Williams’ `Happy’ and doing a snappy two-step.
Still in this corner it was time to catch up with Shepaug A.D. Matt Perachi and find out his pitching son Dom had won his first professional game for the Bradenton Marauders (Pittsburgh Pirates) the night before, share a few words with home plate umpire Billy Grabowski, check in with top notch photographer Jim Shannon of the Waterbury Republican and reporter Kevin Roberts. Oh and to watch some good old country baseball.
The moral of the story? – Come spring there’s no day like a Shepaug Day. Where else would you rather be? Nowhere. Ask Rockwell.