Filmic evidence shows I “froze” at the 1976 Brighton Little League All Star game and other Brighton memories

Filmic evidence shows I “froze” at the 1976 Brighton Little League All Star game and other Brighton memories

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.

NYS Lt. Governor Mario Cuomo after his election as Governor. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 03 Nov 1982 From My first election: Horton and Cuomo. And some 2018 endorsements.

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.

Brighton Memories 1976 – 1981 [Uploaded to Youtube by Andre Marquis]

As Athesia is an artist and art professor at MCC, I asked her to create this portrait of myself deeply pondering the meaning of freezing at the plate on the very same spot 40 years later! Alas, Athesia’s subject did not offer her much in the way of artistic material. From Iconic America at the Brighton Little League Parade

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.

vp supply

In 1977, I was with V.P. Supply. from Iconic America at the Brighton Little League Parade

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.

(left) At the 1976 game [Photo: Leslie Kramer, see Brighton Memories 1976 – 1981]; (right) That 1976 summer, my family vacationed at Bethany Beach in Delaware. I joined a pick up beach wiffle ball game. At that game, I did not freeze. [Photo: Leslie Kramer, see Brighton Memories 1976 – 1981 ]

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

David Kramer, 1981 BHS graduation

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

1981 Brighton High School graduation outside the Eastman Theater (top, l-r) Alan Sun ’82, Dean Tucker ’81 (bottom, l-r) Andre Marquis ’81 and Phil Ghyzel ’81 From Brighton Memories 1976 – 1981

Daniel Rosen (standing) and David Kramer (laying) From The Couch Monster

(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

The Rosens. (l-r) Dan from a December 22nd, 1997 Guest Essay in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Deb from the Brighton High School Yearbook, Crossroads, 1986 and Adam, Crossroads, 1985 [Yearbooks held at and scanned courtesy of the Brighton Memorial Library]

Andre Marquis (far left in group picture) From One of Brighton High School’s Fab Five is back in town

(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  

Andre Marquis mortally wounded in the Brighton Rock Pile, accompanied by Leslie Kramer. From Untitled

In 2020, Andre and I recreated Untitled.

2020 Recreation of Untitled (left) Andre Marquis; (center) dead body; (right) David Kramer. An intrepid Nazi hunter sneaks into a remote neo-Nazi lair. He discovers the corpse of a previous Nazi hunter who met a grisly end. Suddenly, a neo-Nazi leaps out, attacks the hunter with vintage Wehrmacht luger.

A fight to the death ensues. [Photos: Carol Kramer]

Like the hunter before him, this failed hunter also meets an untimely end, and is dumped in the woods. [In the Rockpile, Brighton, NY]

(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

(Above) David Kramer batting,Billy Swift pitching and Shawn Monfredo fielding. Not pictured is catcher David Cohen. 1976 or 1977; (below) Recreating game 2 of the 1976 International Wiffle Ball League world series. (left) Phil Ghyzel at bat; (right) David Kramer at bat. On defense, Julia Ghyzel [Photos: Rebecca Ghyzel, 12/26/18] 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

David Kramer working on the massive house of cards. [Photo: Leslie Kramer]

(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


Site says Brighton is best place to live in New York

Twelve Corners Memorial Park, Brighton, NY 4/5/18 [Photo: David Kramer]

One of Brighton High School’s Fab Five is back in town

(l-r) Andre Marquis, Phil Ghyzel, Eugene Kramer and David Kramer

Iconic America at the Brighton Little League Parade

American icons: American Justice (Brighton Town Court Judge Karen Morris), the American People (l-r, Betsy Knapp, Ellie Heider, Saffron Howe, Sadie Scott, Anna Campbell), the American Flag, the American Military. American iconography is complicated. 4/31/16

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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