Baseball old-timers still give it all they’ve got in annual game

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By Larry Goffinet

TELL CITY—Yes, the annual Schweizer Fest old-timers baseball game is mainly played just for fun.

The players don’t even have to be in competitive shape, as they can get youngsters to run for them as soon as they hit the ball.

They also don’t have to cover a lot of ground in the outfield, as each team started six outfielders Thursday (though one team played one as a short fielder so shallow that he was almost a fifth infielder).

But there was also plenty of hustle and competitive spirit on display in Thursday’s game.

In the first inning Kelly Malone, who will turn 47 next month, hit a shot nearly to the 345-foot mark on the left-field fence and legged it out himself for a double.

When the next batter hit a grounder, Malone advanced to third and slid safely under the tag.

Another grounder followed. Again Malone took off and again he slid, beating the catcher’s tag to score the game’s first run.

Malone later scored another run on a single by Ben Ransome, who at age 82 was the oldest to play in the game.

Ransome and his son Wayne had played together in the old Lincolnland semipro baseball league when Wayne was a teen-ager and Ben was in his late 30s. Thursday were on the field together again.

Keith Pierrard won the award for longest hit with a shot to deep right-center field.

Alan Malone’s double to deep left-center and Kelly Malone’s double were other contenders for the longest hit award.

Tom Hess won the best defensive play award for the second time in three years with his tumbling catch of a pop-up at second base.

If an award had been presented to the player who came the longest distance to play, it would have gone to Todd Pannett, a 1981 Tell City graduate who now lives in Chesterfield, Mo.

As a sophomore, Pannett was the starting catcher for a Tell City team that lost in the regional finals to Don Mattingly’s Evansville Memorial team. He got one of the Marksmen’s four hits off Mattingly in that game.

Thursday Pannett proved he could still hit, going 3 for 3.

Several other players who helped Tell City win 11 consecutive sectionals, 1978-88, played in Thursday’s game, including Kelly Malone, Brad Peter, Pierrard, Dave Sanders and Stacy Kratzer.

Pierrard, a 1980 Tell City graduate, noted this is the first old-timers game he has played, though he was eligible to play in it several years before. Players must be at least age 40 to compete.

Two rookies who just turned 40, Alan Malone and Kratzer, were among the 34 players in this year’s game.

As usual, it was announced that the game ended in a tie. But some fans in the stands said the Evens won, and the scoreboard had shown them ahead 3-1 just before the final out was made.

The game was sponsored by Golden Living Center-Lincoln Hills, which supplied free hotdogs, popcorn and soft drinks to all fans who wanted them.

Several baseball trivia contests were also held during the game, with youth baseballs awarded as prizes.