By Marcus Henderson
Actor and producer Casey Affleck’s Los Angeles Love baseball team fell to the San Quentin All-Stars in a double header 7-6 and 13-3.
In the first game, All-Star John “Dunnie” Windham smashed a walk-off grand slam home run to cap off a ninth-inning rally for the win.
“That was a profound baseball moment,” said David Gould, Loves’ Head Coach and player. “No lead is safe; you have to stay humble. You can’t get cocky.”
Windham added, “We never lost confidence. We believed we could win like this.”
L.A. Love is from the Beverly Hills Wood Bat League. The club was started seven years ago by Affleck and Gould. They have won a L.A. City Championship.
Affleck has appeared in such movies The Assassination of Jesse James, Ocean’s Eleven and in Good Will Hunting with his brother, Ben Affleck. He has a new movie, Manchester of the Sea, coming out in November.
“I learned a lot about life in here,” said Affleck. “People should be aware of what is going on; there is a need to prepare people to assimilate back into society.”
Affleck and Gould are working on a movie about the life of Earl Smith, who restarted the baseball program at Quentin.
“He has an inspirational life, and redemption through baseball it’s really an interesting story,” said Gould. “We all have a universal passion for the game.”
Down 6-1 in the ninth, All-Stars Joshua Burton and Cleo Cloman singled. Burton made it to third off of Cloman’s hit. He scored on a double steal with Cloman, catching the Love off guard. Two more singles and a walk set the stage for Windham.
“These guys are a real class act,” said Alex Ansolenga, Love catcher. “My perception about people in prison has changed. This experience has opened my eyes; especially the way all the guys accepted responsibility for what they’ve done.”
The Love put up three runs in the fifth. Ben Conely singled down the third base line and Boomer Wells hit a line drive double past center field for the score. Kody McCarty singled to bring in Wells. Patrick Kennedy got the RBI single for McCarty for the 6-1 lead.
The Love’s first three runs came as All-Star pitcher Jeff “Dewey” Dumont struggled at the mound. He walked in a run, and Taylor Ervin came in on a sacrifice fly in the first. Dumont closed the ending, striking out Affleck.
In the second, Love Pitcher Brian Nichols singled and stole second, and Ervin bought him home with a base hit.
“We struggled at first,” said Dumont. “It took me awhile to settle in, but it was gut check time in the ninth.”
Nichols added, “Being here is one of my most memorable moments. Baseball is beautiful whatever level you play it on.”
Nichols played in the minor leagues with the New York Mets from 1999–2001.
“These guys are competitive and respect the game,” said Nichols. “They didn’t disappoint; they made me work.”
Not only did the All-Stars batting came to life in both games, but they also made some spectacular defensive plays.
David Fairie was a one-man double play. He secured a ground ball, touched third base and from his knees threw the runner out at first.
“I love all this; it’s no looking back,” said Fairie. “We are all winners. I feel alive again; back in the SHU (Security Housing Unit) it’s like you’re dead. These guys inspire me to do better.”
Conley, of the Love added, “I’ve played in front of 8,000 people and this is right up there. The energy you feel when first come here is unique. I’m impressed with their pitcher professionalism.”
Conley also played in the minors.
The May 14 game had players bonding and reflecting.
“These guys surprised me. This let you know that more is going on behind bars,” said Love’s Jeff Pruitt. “As a Black man I could have been the ‘one-in-four’ in prison. I feel privileged.”
In the second game, the Love struggled at the mound and the All-Stars took advantage racking up the score.
“We are starting to gel and good teams have to have chemistry,” said Frankie Smith, All-Stars inmate Head Coach. “It’s a privilege that they came all this way; it’s a blessing.”
By Marcus Henderson