Despite the ravages of time, several players in Monday's National Old Timers Baseball Classic demonstrated their former big league fielding form.
American League shortstop Jim Fregosi made a fielding gem as he ran to his left to grab a liner off the bat of Bobby Bragan in the first inning. Fregosi, who played the whole five-inning game, had three other assists, including the start of the game's only double play in the third and a tough pick-up of a Ron Swoboda grounder in the fifth.
NL shortstop Don Kessinger, who also played the whole game, showed a big league arm in getting Rocky Colavito on a deep grounder in the first. NL center fielder Bill Robinson made a nifty running basket catch off Frank Howard in the second. AL first baseman Tom Tresh looked good while fielding a wicked one-hopper hit by Lou Brock in the fourth.
All but two players on the 48-man rosters got in the game. Home run champion Hank Aaron was stuck on jury duty in Atlanta. Luke Appling, the oldest old-timer at 83, coached third base but did not officially enter the game.
Like most old-timers games, the rules of real baseball were frequently winked at. For instance, the National League's Andy Pafko was both a pinch hitter in the first inning and a pinch runner in the fourth.
Three former Bisons played in the game. The AL's Dick Bosman, who pitched two innings for the Herd in 1969, got Swoboda to ground out in the fifth. Ferguson Jenkins, who played three games with Buffalo in 1962, gave up one hit while pitching the third inning for the NL. Swoboda, a 22-game veteran with Buffalo's 1964 team, played right field for the NL and went 0 for 2 at the plate.
Metropolitan Opera star Robert Merrill not only sang the national anthem, but also wore an American League uniform (No. 1 1/2 ), coached a bit at first base and sang "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" in the third-inning stretch.
Manny Sanguillen, who played with Batavia in 1965, demonstrated his famous "sit down" catching style for the NL in the last inning. He said he invented the "low target" style made famous later by Tony Pena.
The umpires were Nick Colosi, 62; Russ Goetz, 60, and Jim Honochick, 72. Honochick and AL first baseman Boog Powell had planned a comedy argument at third base, but neither Powell nor any other AL runner got that far.
Willie Horton and Colavito each hit two home runs to left field in batting practice. Tug McGraw also hit one there and hot-dogged it by circling the bases afterward.