David Kramer batting in the 1976 Brighton Little League All Star game. From Brighton Memories 1976 – 1981
Recently when clearing the basement, I rediscovered some family home movies from about 1976 to about 1981, later digitalized. Of historic note, the montage includes possibly the only extant digitalized images of the 1981 Brighton High School graduation at the Eastman Theater. Some of the grainy images may be of Commencement Speaker Lieutenant Governor Mario Cuomo.
Among sundries like the collapse of the card castle, two underground movies made by Brighton students, the only film made of the International Wiffle Ball League is also the only film of the 1976 Brighton Little League All Star game.
A few years before the recent discovery, in Iconic America at the Brighton Little League Parade, I recounted my experience in the game I “froze” at the plate — known only to me — not swinging once in my four at bats as the cleanup hitter. [In the montage, see from the beginning to about the 3:20 mark]. After reviewing the filmic evidence, my written recollection conforms with reality.
It was 1976, my first season. Then, the rules were that in your first season, you could play in the slightly younger bracket, which I did for Bayles Furniture].
Everyone has that one championship season. In my first swing in practice on the football field, I hit one almost to the goal post. It was like I was the Natural. All season, pitching and at shortstop, I played naturally and unselfconsciously. A little like my hero George Brett: good instincts and line drive hitter with some home run power.
In the All Star game, I was the only one chosen to play the whole game, pitching and at shortstop. And batting cleanup. My sister filmed part of the game and caught my easy pitching motion that later in life became stilted as I thought too much. My fast ball was a little wild, but because I had all star fielders, I took a little off the pitches and got outs. At shortstop, I caught a throw nailing a stealing base runner. I remember that all star catcher’s bullet popping right into my glove.
But at the plate, I froze. I came up four times, but did not swing once. I could not will the bat off my shoulder. Luckily, the other team walked me the first three times, twice with the bases loaded. My teammates shouted, they’re afraid of him. People thought I had a good eye, but no one knew what was going on inside my head.
But many of the pitches were hittable. But from unselfconscious I went to paralyzed. Frozen. In the last at bat, I took a called third strike.
But it didn’t effect the outcome. We won the game handily. I had pitched decently, fielded my position, and scored a couple of runs with two rbi. That would also be my last moment in the sun. The next year, when I moved up in the age bracket, I was thoroughly mediocre.
I don’t know if I ever told that story, my secret. What’s to tell? No drama; no one knew; we won the game handily. Sometimes, however, I wondered if my paralysis was a metaphor for a failed life.
While I have not walked across the grandest stages, my life has not been a failure. So there goes that metaphor. Really, it’s just a secret story I keep with my twelve year old self. When I think of him then and me now, it still feels like we are the same person. I accept him and he accepts me — even if we froze in the 1976 Brighton Little League All Star game and many times since.
And it’s all there on film. My sister captured the runner thrown trying to steal, me scoring a run, my second base teammate making a good play, my stilted pitching style, and yes, me with the bat on my shoulder, including the called third strike I took late in the game.
[Reader Josh Pincus adds this memory of the game:
I’m pretty sure I hit a home run in that game. Or more accurately, a three-base error on a hard grounder up the middle. I’m glad there’s no filmic evidence to refute that fond memory. But you were a superstar to me, frozen in my recollection of a happy time.
Also in the montage
(1) The 1981 Brighton High School graduation with grads Mitchell Mutz, Tim Elliot, Shawn Monfredo, David Kramer, Dean Tucker, Leslie Kramer, Alan Sun, Phil Ghyzel, Eric Kemperman, Harold Pollack, Andre Marquis and others. 51:22 – 53:00
Below, four of the Five Fab from the 1980 – 1981 BHS Chess Team. See One of Brighton High School’s Fab Five is back in town
(2) The Couch Monster stars David Kramer ’81, Daniel Rosen ’82, Adam Rosen ’85 and Deborah Rosen ’86, inspired by Young Frankenstein (1974) and created sometime in the mid-to-late 1970s, . In The Couch Monster, a mad scientist played by Daniel Rosen attempts to resuscitate a corpse (David Kramer) lying on a couch (played by itself). The scientist accidentally drops his life giving potion on the couch, and mayhem ensues. 9:29 – 12:24
(3) Untitled — an epic of subterfuge, espionage and Nazi hunting — stars Leslie Kramer ’78, David Kramer ’81 and Andre Marquis ’81. Note the cool 1970s walkie talkie and Star Trek tracer guns. The automatic electric typewriter scene was filmed in the Brighton High School computer lab (or what counted for one back then) 59:57 – 1:04
In 2020, Andre and I recreated Untitled.(4) The montage includes the only extant film — only a few seconds long 18:17 – 18:21 — of the International Wiffle Ball League, 1976 – 1977. See One of Brighton High School’s Fab Five is back in town
See One of Brighton High School’s Fab Five is back in town (5) Also captured in The montage is the collapse of a giant card castle built at 155 Avalon Drive, including Dean Tucker, Billy Swift, David Kramer and Shawn Monfredo (RIP). 15:50 – 16:24
SEE ALSOOne of Brighton High School’s Fab Five is back in town