Vernon Mayor George Apel, in his continued quest to out-do South Windsor in the Great Football Wager of 2012, may just have out-done himself.
"I have something South Windsor will never get us on," he said during a recent interview at Town Hall.
"Oh do tell, Your Honor … "
"Yes. Christy Mathewson."
The mayor went on to explain that on at least one occasion - believed to be in 1904 - the Hall of Fame pitcher left the comfort of the Polo Grounds, Ventured north and played for one of the mill teams in Rockville.
"It was hardball," Apel said.
Maybe it was a also sign of how much money Mathewson was - or wasn't - making early in his career. Maybe in barnstorming, he wound up with a couple of suits out of the deal.
But sure enough, in the book Images of America - Vernon and Historic Rockville, by S. Ardis Abbott and Jean A. Luddy, Mathewson is mentioned as a player on one of those mill teams.
So one of the first great pitchers of the 20th century picked Vernon.
This is serious cannon fodder for the bet - oops, friendly wager - between Vernon Patch and South Windsor Patch involving the Rockville-SW high school football game the night before Thanksgiving. The editor representing the losing side must write a story about five things that make the winning town better.
Mathewson can certainly be included when Ted Glanzer writes his story after the Rams win.
But Ted may as well get some game notes, so here it goes.
Hopped in the car and drove over to Cooperstown. The good people at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library were happy to help with a high-resolution image of Mathewson's plaque.
During the meticulous research undertaken for this essay, there was uncovered, what has to be a smudged asterisked note on an addendum to the records written on the back of a train ticket to the Talcottville Depot. It says, "Prediction ... First pitcher of the century ever to win 30 games in three consecutive years … and played for a Rockville mill team."
Everything up to the " … and" is on the official Hall of Fame plaque.
There was thus only one thing to do - red-eye to Iowa.
Landed, walked onto the road, stuck the thumb out and along came a VW microbus. Jumped in and was taken directly the the farm.
Hopped onto the field without touching the baseline and went to right center. Figured he was there because right-handed hitters had a hard time pulling the ball when he was on the mound.
Immediately noticed Terrance Mann, a subscriber to Vernon Patch under the screen name "reclusewriterwhoisamoviecharacter."
"Yes, the friendly wager," he said while apologizing for not starting his Patch blog yet. "I have been following the friendly wager. No way that Glanzer guy wins. Rockville all the way."
He excitedly turned to walk away and then caught himself.
"Oh, I'm getting him," he said.
Mathewson could be seen only with strained eyes through several stalks of corn. He was in the middle of a checkers game with Eddie Collins, another baseball great Apel said played for one of the Rockville mill teams.
The both stood up and yelled over.
"Rockville by two touchdowns," Mathewson said. "South Windsor is going to look about as good as those Highlanders in the ALCS just now."
Collins elbowed him.
"I mean, Yankees."
Mathewson yelled one more thing before walking over to some type of beverage machine to grab a drink before resuming the checkers game.
"Tell Glanzer - not if, when he writes that thing - that we better be in there."
These are Hall of Famers, Ted, so just get ready to write it. Write it and they will come.
To root for Rockville and haunt you.
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