As if it had been downloaded from some vacation-paradise website, beautiful weather descended on the Munich area to bless last weekend's opening of the 2013 baseball season.
For three out of four Munich-area clubs (Baldham Boars, Haar Disciples, Gauting Indians and Munich Caribes) playing in the 2nd and 3rd divisions of German baseball it was not all sunshine though. In four fixtures, each a doubleheader, the aggregate record was 3 wins and 5 losses, with some results potentially already indicating some joy and trouble ahead for some of the teams.
In the 2. Bundesliga South division, the newly-promoted Baldham Boars lost both their games at home against the Regensburg Legionäre second team by 19-7 and 2-0 on Sunday. The fixture was tough on Baldham who returned to the second division after four years away. Regensburg have the strongest baseball program in Germany and is home to a boarding school and baseball academy nurturing some of the best young talent from around the country. Its second team has talent that is arguably as good as some teams in the 1. Bundesliga. The second game result, a narrow loss of 2-0, speaks well of the Boars' morale.
A sign of how well the Boars measure up in the 2. Bundesliga might come next Saturday in another fixture in Baldham. The Boars will be hosting the Mainz Athletics second team - the same one that demolished the Haar Disciples second team by scores of 16-0 and 12-2 in Mainz on Sunday. The Athletics are another well-established club in German baseball, and their 2. Bundesliga team has a solid roster.
In the Regionalliga South-East, one of German baseball's four 3rd-division leagues, the newly-promoted Gauting Indians managed a split on their home field against the Herrenberg Wanderers. After winning the first game 6-1, they lost the second one 7-4. After going 28-0 last season in the Bayernliga to gain promotion to the Regionalliga, it must have come as something of a shock for the Indians to leave the field on the losing end of a contest.
Saving the best news for last about Munich's ball teams, the Munich Caribes handily won both their opening day games against the Fuerth Pirates, 11-1 and 10-5, in the Oberwiesenfeld Ballpark in the Olympia Park.
A crowd of around 100 saw a Caribes team living up to its pre-season billing as one of the contenders for the league title, seeing strong pitching performances by player-coach Steve Walker, as well as Nick Angstman and Jakob Lipke. Some mighty home runs by Mateo Gatica and Angstman kept the score ticking over, supported by aggressive baserunning and solid defensive play in the field.
Baseball fans won't have a chance to see the Caribes at home again until May 4th, when they host the Ellwangen Elks, who likewise won their opening day doubleheader. Before the season, Walker predicted the Elks to be one of the Caribes' toughest opponents in the league.
For those who want to see the very best that German baseball can offer, then they should head to Haar next Saturday (April 20th, 13:00 CET) to see the Disciples' first team host the three-time defending German champions Regensburg Legionäre.
The Disciples head into the new season with some question marks. Their roster has gone through a reshuffle and is playing under a new American head coach, Keith Maxwell. How well they perform against the Legionäre - with a line-up loaded with top German ballplayers plus a handful of strong overseas players - might provide some early answers to the rest of the season.