Vintage ballgame to honor ex-coach Tony Mass

Tony Mass of Walbridge says coaching baseball was 'probably the nicest thing I ever went through in my life.'
Tony Mass of Walbridge says coaching baseball was 'probably the nicest thing I ever went through in my life.'

The vintage baseball game slated for Loop Park in Walbridge on Saturday is the latest event in the village’s summer-long centennial celebration, but it also has another purpose.

Tony Mass, a longtime coach of the former Walbridge Cubs youth baseball team, will be honored for his contributions in the village. For 33 years, Mr. Mass coached the Cubs, the team for boys aged nine and 10, which won numerous honors, including a regional tournament in 1983 with a 36-6 drubbing of an Akron team.

Mr. Mass, who is 87, will be introduced at the game and his contributions to Walbridge teams recounted, said Darlene Limmer, president of the Walbridge Centennial Committee.

Mr. Mass, for his part, is modest about his achievements as a baseball coach, and said he enjoyed every season on the diamonds with his young players. “It was probably the nicest thing I ever went through in my life,” he said. “We went to the regionals once or twice and the state once, and had a lot of league wins.”

The vintage baseball game starts at 7 p.m. and will pit a team of Walbridge players against a team from CSX Transportation, which this year is observing the centennial of its Stanley Yard in Walbridge.

The players will not be wearing old-fashioned baseball uniforms — they’re too expensive — but will play according to rules codified in 1860. The Great Black Swamp Frogs Base Ball Club will provide umpires. The proper historical terms also will be used. So a team is a “club,” the pitching rubber is the “pitcher’s point,” and a player out is a “hand lost.”

For children aged five to 12, there will be a baseball competition at 5 p.m., with registration 30 minutes earlier, according to Ken Gilsdorf, a village councilman and member of the centennial committee.

The young players will be tested in four competitive events: longest hit, most hits, fastest baserunner, and throwing accuracy.

“We will have a pitching machine, and each kid will get six pitches,” Mr. Gilsdorf explained. “For 5 and 6-year-olds, we’ll probably do T-Ball. The adults also will get a chance to try their hand against the pitching machine. For throwing accuracy, we’ll have a piece of plywood with holes in it, and the kids will stand back and throw in to them.”

The baseball events also will feature hot dogs, peanuts, and root beer floats at old-fashioned prices — 25 cents. Afterwards the celebration moves a couple of blocks away to the village’s Aqua Terrace pool for a fireworks display at 9:30 p.m.