Rain cuts down the action, Caribes take league lead

Munich Caribes player-coach Steve Walker delivers a pitch in Sunday's game at the Füssen Royal Bavarians. Walker is throwing from a pitcher's mound of gravel, on a baseball field that almost entirely consists of hard-packed gravel. Photo: Douglas SuttonHeavy rains forced the cancellation of games by two local Munich area teams last weekend; the Haar Disciples' 1. Bundesliga South season, home opener against Regensburg and the Baldham Boars home fixture against Mainz in the 2. Bundesliga South, both on Saturday.

This left only one fixture in the local area to be played, but it was not a happy one from the Munich baseball scene's standpoint. Sadly the Haar Disicples' 2nd team, playing in the 2. Bundesliga South, lost both home games on Sunday against the Neuenburg Atomics, by 9-2 and 5-4.

Meanwhile two local clubs playing in the Regionalliga South-East - German baseball's 3rd division - played away on Sunday. The Gauting Indians gained a split against the strong Ellwangen Elks in two closely-fought contests. The Indians lost the first one by 5-2, but won the second game 5-3. That result must have made the long drive back home a bit easier for Gauting, who now have a season record of 2-2 (2 wins, 2 defeats).

The Munich Caribes in the meantime won twice in two hotly contested away games against the Füssen Royal Bavarians, 5-3 and 10-6. With the score tied at 6-6 after the regulation 7 innings of the second game, the contest went two further innings before the Munich club broke out with four runs in the top of the 9th, holding on to defend that result in Fuessen's final bat.

The Caribes thereby improved their season record to 4-0 to move top of the 8-team Regionalliga South-East table, ahead of Ellwangen and Herrenberg, each at 3-1. A showdown with Ellwangen is shaping up for the Caribes' next home game on May 4th. The term "sandlot baseball" comes to mind when looking at the Royal Bavarians' field. The term harks back to the old days when kids would gather on some abandoned dusty, sandy, weed-strewn lot to play their baseball.

Germans have a term called "Bolzplatz" which comes closest to matching the term sandlot. In Füssen, the Royal Bavarians' "field of dreams" might more aptly be dubbed "field of screams" as its entire infield and part of the outfield are actually a former asphalt parking lot. The surface consists of a layer of hard-packed gravel, adding real adventure to the game. Ground balls skid faster on the hard-packed surface, but also take some crazy bounces when hitting maybe a bigger bit of gravel. Sliding into a base or diving for a ball will mean a torn uniform, bloody scrapes and scratches - maybe even requiring a blood infusion or two between innings - on the players' legs and arms.

This tough baseball field setting is ironically found in the beautiful, mountain landscape of King Ludwig II's dream castle Neuschwanstein, located not far away. And it must be mentioned that the baseball program in Füssen is a good one. The Royal Bavarians' team competes near the top of the Regionalliga and Sunday's action showed that the club is continuing to develop good, young local German ballplayers.

So you wish for the Royal Bavarians that they could one day have a better ballfield to play on. And one even starts to fantasize: What if "Mad King" Ludwig had fallen in love with baseball. Would he have gone building a bunch of beautiful baseball stadiums around Bavaria instead of castles? Just imagine it...


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