INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – Players, volunteers and spectators alike couldn’t ask for better weather or a better game Saturday when the Little League Croom Dodgers eked out a victory over the Vero Beach Codgers.
The teams played for bragging rights and as a fund-raiser to benefit the Senior Resource Association.
“They were great,” Dodgers shortstop Jack Talley said of the Codgers. “I underestimated them.” The Dodgers narrowly won over the Codgers with a final score of 15 to 14 as Dodger pitcher Steven Croom kept the Codgers scoreless in the sixth and final inning.
“It felt really good,” Croom said of beating the Codgers. “If we lost to a bunch of old guys, it’d be embarrassing.”
Senior Resource Association Board member Gerry Thistle said the loss stung just a touch.
“It’s a little disappointing,” Thistle said of losing to the kids, but “there’s always next year – if enough of us are still around.”
This was the first of what Charles Croom said he hopes to become an annual fund-raiser for the Senior Resource Association. Croom came up with the idea while his company was renovating the organization’s building – a project that is expected to wrap up by the end of May.
“One thing led to another,” Croom said of the formation of the event. After the game he added that he still remembers when he was a high schooler and played baseball at Holman Stadium. It was an experience he wanted his son to have as well.
Senior Resource Association CEO Karen Deigl said she was happy with the inaugural event and was glad to see the community support for it.
“We’re so excited,” she said of being able to promote intergenerational connections, something the Senior Resource Association strives for.
Approximately 300 people came out to the game to show support for either the Dodgers, the Codgers, or the Senior Resource Association.
“This is hysterical,” said Marci Lexer, a member of the SRA’s Silver Tones Chorus while watching the game.
Fellow singer Betty Payne agreed.
“This is more fun than a real game,” she said. “This is adorable.”
The Silver Tones Chorus sang the National Anthem prior to the game’s start and included: Bob Leahy, Bill Payne, Mark Blackhart, John Merrick, Bob Webster, Shirley Bishop, Lynn Bradish-Fadden, Ursula Leahy, Lyn Rowlinson, Tori Blackhart, Diane Chazotte, June Flack, Marci Lexer, Lorely Ridge, Betty Payne, and Melissa Webster.
Others in the audience could be heard heckling the Codgers – for either their stance at the bat or their lack of speed on the field.
“Way to hustle!” one heckler shouted from the stands at Codger first baseman Jay Hart, who didn’t move fast enough to catch a pop up.
Sheriff Deryl Loar, a member of the Codgers, drew chuckles when he first took the plate, sporting red shoes – everyone else’s were white.
“Hey batter,” a heckler cried, “I like your shoes!”
Sheriff Loar turned to look up in the stands, grinned, and proceeded to bat a single, not allowing the heckler to get under his skin.
By the end of the first two innings, the game looked like it would be completely one-sided, with the Croom Dodgers leading 6-1.
But with a 3-run homerun by County Attorney Alan Polackwich, the Codgers were back in the game and by the end of the third, both teams were tied with six apiece.
The fourth inning nearly spelled disaster for the Croom Dodgers after Baird and another Codger both earned 3-run homeruns. The Dodgers responded with four of their own runs to keep the score close – 14 to 10.
But it appeared the Codgers had used up their strength and remained scoreless throughout the remaining two innings, giving the Dodgers a chance to come back from behind.
By the end of the fifth, and one inning to go, the score was tied 14 apiece.
“It’s an all new ball game,” announce Mike Brady told the crowd.
Dodger third baseman Brandon Colon batted a run in to take the lead for the first time since the start of the game.
“It’s do or die time,” Brady told the Codgers at the start of the sixth inning.
Both Sheriff Loar and County Public Works Director Chris Mora took quick outs, leaving radio host Bob Soos to keep his team in the game.
As Soos walked toward the plate, he pulled a wad of bills out of his pocket and made like he was going to give it to the catcher as a bribe, drawing chuckles from the crowd. He put his money away and stepped into the batters box.
Dodger pitcher Steven Croom gave Soos three balls before getting serious. One strike. Two strikes. One more strike – and he was out.
“That’s your ball game,” Brady announced. The Dodgers charged the mound and piled atop Croom.
“I was a little surprised,” Coach Charles Croom said of the Vero Beach Codgers. “The Codgers hung in there with us.”
While the Dodgers won the game, the real winner was the Senior Resource Association. The funds from the game and concessions sales will go toward supporting the organization’s general programming, CEO Karen Deigl said.
Such programs include Meals on Wheels, Adult Day Care, Social Entrée Meals, In-Home Services, Senior Center programs and transportation.
For more information about the Senior Resource Association, please visit www.SeniorResourceAssociation.org.