When Harford scores nine runs in the fifth inning to go up 15-4 -- aided by a rash of Dundalk errors -- it's easy to see who the most competitive Dundalk player is.
"Seven errors," says Frank Usher, shaking his head in disgust.
"Seven errors? Hey, we could play for the Orioles!" laughs Jim Melton.
But Usher isn't laughing. He directs a murderous stare in the direction of the opposing pitcher.
"Seems like the young guys coming up don't know the fundamentals," he says after a moment.
Yes! He actually says this! THE YOUNG GUYS COMING UP!
It turns out Usher grew up in Dundalk and is a World War II combat veteran. He learned to handle the heat in the South Pacific, amid fierce fighting on Guam, Okinawa and Midway Island.
He's in the Dundalk Community College Hall of Fame for football and he's had a six-way heart bypass operation, and you probably didn't even know there was such a thing, but there is.
Yet none of that means squat right now, because Usher's team is getting waxed and its manager, a guy with a heart the size of Montana, feels humiliated.
"We're used to beating this team by 10 runs," he says, in the kind of voice you'd have if you gargled shards of glass daily. "I hate to lose. I've been a winner all my life."
Here is what the Dundalk Seniors don't talk about during the long season: how good a player was in his prime. Nobody cares if you were some hot shot fast-pitch legend 40 years ago with an arm like a cannon and a magical bat like The Natural.
What matters here are "the skills of the moment," Doc Anderson says, "rather than what skills you had in the past."
Here is what the Dundalk Seniors do talk about all the time: aches and pains. Who's hurting where. Who's buying Ben-Gay by the truckful and eating ibuprofen as if it were pistachio nuts.
"Are you kidding? That's all we talk about," says Anderson. "When you're 74, you're always in pain."
But they're playing ball, and that's what counts most, the Dundalk players tell you. Which is a good thing, because if it were the score that counted most, they'd be hurling themselves off the nearest bridge by now.
Right now, it's the bottom of the ninth, and Dundalk trails 27-13 and is down to its last three outs.
Even though they're down by two touchdowns, on the bench there is spirited talk of a rally, which would suit Frank Usher just fine.
"From the second inning to the seventh inning, we had a total of four hits," he snorts. "That's unbelievable in slo-pitch. Guys are sitting on the bench and not paying attention to the game and what the pitcher's throwing."
"A bad day at Black Rock," says Silvestri softly as he hustles in from left. "You have days like this sometimes."
Dundalk scores four runs when the wheels come off the Harford defense, including a dropped pop fly off the bat of Doc Anderson.
But the rally dies a quick death when Melton hits a soft fly ball that the Harford second baseman squeezes in a glove the size of a grass rake for the final out.
"Keep smiling, guys," says Jim Melton as the two teams shake hands, and the Dundalk Seniors do smile, even Frank Usher, who wants to win more than anyone, but who is classy in defeat.
Afterward, bottles of ice water and cans of Diet Pepsi are passed around, and as the sun climbs high in the sky and the equipment is gathered up, the talk turns quickly to the next game.
Wednesday at 10 a.m. against Bowie.
Another chance to play ball. Another chance to keep geezerhood at bay.
Pub Date: 07/04/99