The celebration at Mashashimuet Park ensued immediately after Liquor’s pitcher Kelly Fox forced Tim Mott to fly out, giving Liquors their second consecutive championship. But it wasn’t the championship trophy that the team huddled around. Instead it was an old jersey bearing number 11, worn by late teammate and friend Travis Field. The 20-year old member of the Springs Fire Department died in a car accident in mid-May in Wading River. The jersey hung on the fence in front of the team’s dugout every game this season.
Brian Anderson stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning on Tuesday night representing the go ahead run. Liquors trailed Mott 8-7 and legendary pitcher Bob Burden was on the mound. Anderson connected and the bright yellow softball took flight. The Liquors dugout erupted and the ball just kept going and going. Anderson’s RBI-home run gave Liquors the lead and the championship.
All season long Anderson had been playing with Fields’ number drawn on the back of his red t-shirt with a black Sharpie. Above the number were the letters R-I-P. Anderson and Field had been friends since pre-school at the Neighborhood House in Springs. After the game he said thought he had a little help with the home run.
“That ball had wings.”
Anderson said the season, the championship, all of it, was dedicated to Field. He said before the season even started, the whole team knew it would end up this way. He called Field the “heart and soul of the team.”
In the stands sat Field’s family, just like they had been all season long. Only his mother was absent because she had to work. After the game each Liquors players hugged the neck of Field’s father, brother and little sister. Anderson gave the game ball, the ball that that had wings, to Field’s father, Chris.
“It’s a fulfillment of the entire season,” said Chris. “I know Travis is looking down on us and he’s proud of the whole team.”
He said the team picture from last year’s championship, Travis included, is still hanging in his room in their house in East Hampton. He plans to hang this year’s picture beside it.
The entire team surrounded Field’s little sister, 14-year-old Kady, after the game. They hugged her neck and she cried and said thank you.
“[Travis] always wanted us to come to his games,” she said. “But we’d always be like, aw, we’re tired. But this year, we had to come all of them.
It looked as if the best of five series, a rematch of last years championship was going to be pushed to a fourth game early Tuesday. Mott jumped out to an 8-2 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth. Liquors though, had other plans. They mounted a five-run inning led by the bat of Alex Tekulsky who started things off with a solo blast. It was base hit after base hit after that, until Billy Schmitz hit what should have been a two-RBI stand-up triple. Instead, Schmitz motored home to get the in the park homerun which set the stage for Anderson, and for Field.
Liquors pretty much dominated the Sag Harbor Men’s Modified Fast Pitch Softball League this year. They had the biggest bats and the league’s best pitcher in Kelly Fox. Last year Fox played for the now defunct Krauss Rock Stars, who wore khaki t-shirts. “I never thought I’d be wearing red,” she said after the game on Tuesday.
They finished the season with only two losses. And they had something no other team had, the number 11 stenciled on all of their shirtsleeves.
Top photo: Travis Field’s jersey hung on Liquors’ dugout all season long in tribute.
Bottom Photo: Sag Harbor Liquors with Travis Field’s family on the right.