On a crisp and clear November morning, the Vietnam Veterans Group of San Quentin held its inaugural Camaraderie Softball game.
Armed with bat, gloves, and the indomitable spirit of competition, group members and one honorary draftee stormed San Quentin’s Field of Dreams ready for action. In keeping with a Civil War theme, Ernie Vick was selected as general of the blue team, the Damn Yankees. Kenneth Goodlow was appointed commander of the gray’s Johnny Rebels. Once the teams were selected, the stage was set for a historic softball Civil War.
As the game got under way, Gary Harrell was drafted to serve as the all-time pitcher. When asked about his participation, he replied “Usually, I’m a man of peace, but these feisty veterans really got me fired up. It’s an honor and a privilege to take part in this friendly battle alongside men who have served our country.”
The Rebels took an early one-run lead with hits by Darryl Farris, Johnny Gomez, and the fleet-footed Harry Barton. The Yankees rallied back as Larry Faison, Greg Sanders, and Jim Snider launched bombs of their own into the outfield, taking the lead 4 to 1.
In the second inning, both teams got dirty in the trenches and really gave it their all. The Rebels scored another run, but once again the Yankees rallied with three of their own.
‘No guts, no glory’
With the bases loaded and two outs, General Vick headed to the plate with bat in hand. He recalled thinking, “No guts…no glory. I can end this now.” With his head held high, he walked back to the dugout thinking, “Strikeouts, like war, are hell.”
Going into the final inning, the Rebels were down 7 to 2. The comeback charge was mounted with a valiant insurgence of offense from Jesse Hernandez and David Tarvan. Yankee shortstop John Johnston dug in with two spectacular plays to first baseman Garvin “JoJo” Robinson. The Rebels managed to score two additional runs, but in the end it wasn’t enough. Our nation’s history has repeated itself and The Damn Yankees once again seized the day with a 7-4 victory.
After the game, the two teams circled up and each expressed their appreciation for the sportsmanship and camaraderie that was displayed. General Goodlow summed up the day by saying, “We may have lost, but getting out here with my brothers was a really nice and genuine experience. Once I get over this soreness, I’ll be ready for a rematch. So, look out!”
The VVGSQ is issuing a challenge to all outside veterans groups who would be interested in playing the San Quentin squad on the notorious Field of Dreams. To accept the challenge, contact Chief Sponsor Lt. K. Evans at San Quentin, (415) 454-1460 ext. 5205.