I know my writing focus is normally on the top tier of British baseball, but sometimes the story is so good that a deviation from the norm is justified. Moreover, there was a need to smooth out the British baseball karma, and so after my look at “Frustration” from one game on 29 May, here is a consideration of “Patience” from another on that date.
Perhaps the longest-serving regular in the British baseball leagues today, other than on the Old Timers, is Vince Warner. As a nipper, in the late 1960s, he was bat boy for Thames Board Mills. He started playing for TBM in 1974, aged 13, appearing in the odd game as a sub, and enjoyed his first full season in 1975. At the age of 16, he appeared in the southern region’s all-star team that competed in the “Yankees” British National League. During the 1980s he developed into an accomplished Great Britain player (see right), featuring as a pitcher, a catcher, and an outfielder, and scooping MVP honours at the 1986 European Championship B-Pool.
Over the years he has turned in numerous noteworthy appearances on the mound. On 24 July 1994, for instance, pitching for the Essex Eagles against the Tonbridge Bobcats in the independent national league he threw a one-hitter. Then on 7 August 1994, against the Waltham Forest Angels, he carried a one-hit shutout into the seventh inning, only to give up 3 runs in the closing stages. He did still win the game, though, to make it seven wins on the spin.
In the previous year’s independent league grand final programme, he was described as “the ever young Vince Warner”. Twenty years on the description is still apt.
One thing that Warner had not achieved in a career spanning 38 years, and counting, was a no-hitter. That is, until the last-but-one Sunday. Okay, it came in a mercy-rule-shortened contest, but that was out of his hands. Over five innings for the Essex Redbacks, he struck out seven, walked none, and had only one hit batter and an error blotting the scoresheet. This is a tremendous achievement to add to an already substantial career. Well done Vince.