Catch the Sluggers at Meridian Centre Park in Brighton; Talker pitches in.

Catch the Sluggers at Meridian Centre Park in Brighton; Talker pitches in.

[9/18/21 Meridian Centre Park in Brighton. Professional umpire David Kramer dusting off home plate. Photo: Marnie Harvey]

Brighton Little League fall baseball is back at Meridian Centre Park in Brighton where on a sterling late summer afternoon, three teams enjoyed the final stretch of the 2021 season.


Brighton Little League VP of Baseball Operations and unofficial Fall Ball Commissioner Matthew Harvey filled me in on what is now called The Sluggin’ League, an innovative version of baseball using only 6 fielders, all in the infield, with a low, close outfield fence. Matt is a Library Media Specialist in the Gates-Chili Central School District and has coached scholastic baseball in Boston, the Gananda Central School District and now for Gates-Chili.

6 on 6 baseball does not use outfielders. Balls hit over the short fence are home runs.

As Matt explained, Brighton Little League has run a fall league for many years. The league serves several purposes. First, the spring league ends in June and most players do not play much in the summer. Kids who love baseball get more come September. In addition, the six week program allows those who have never played organized baseball to get their first experiences with the game. This year, the program attracted about 225 players. The league is both fully competitive and with a strong instructional component for beginners. Games are held Wednesday mornings at 10am and Saturdays at 2pm.

Teddy # 7 of the Guardians approaches plate, bats, and at innings end returns to his first base position.

(foreground) Grandparents of the Guardians; (background) #7 Teddy’s parents

This year the league is experimenting with 6 on 6. Matt says the format allows for smaller rosters and more at bats per player. Also, the short fence encourages players to take healthy cuts, aiming for home runs normally outside their range. Hence, the league is now called the Sluggin’ League. I like the concept. In Little League, playing the outfield can be boring. Now, on most plays, all the kids are involved in the action.

Matt also mentioned that in the spring season Brighton Little League usually uses high schoolers who came up through the league ranks. In the Fall, many of those umpires are unavailable, so the coaches umpire the games, also allowing for on field instruction.

A professional umpire, mostly recreational softball at Cobb’s Hill, I offered to pitch in, quickly realizung the coaches were doing just fine. Brighton Central School District’s Athletic Director Nate Merritt was one of the umpires. We met Nate in 2016 at the then Barons first televised football game at Reifsteck Field and this year at the Bruins’ June sectional game at East High School.

(above) Umpire Nate Merritt, Pitcher Spencer Tellem # 9 for the Yankees; ( below) BCSD’s Athletic Director Nate Merritt at the Bruins’ June sectional game at East High School with David Kramer from Sectional Extravaganza on Culver Road .

(top) Umpire/coach Doug Johnson calling balls and strike and (bottom) about to call the runner out on a failed stolen base attempt.

The fence rule does have one quirk.  A gap is between the 1st and 3rd bases before the fence begins. It is an umpire’s decision whether or not a struck or thrown ball cleared an imaginary line. Behind the pitcher’s mound, umpire/coach Dan Darbey calling balls and strikes.

In my cameo appearance, Nate and I used a two umpire system. Pitcher is Spencer Tellem # 9. [Photos: Marnie Harvey] See The umpires are back in business at Cobb’s Hill

The Guardian’s Ethan Rittenberg # 9 was involved in a play that could have been controversial when his hit rolled under the fence. However, with Solomon-like foresight, Commissioner Harvey just one day ago emailed the teams that a batter striking a thrown pitched ball that subsequently rolls under the fence is to be given a two base award. So, Ethan was sent to second base without controversy.

Emily and Ethan Rittenberg pointing to the approximate spot where Ethan’s struck ball rolled under the fence.


In the past, I’ve umpired Brighton Little League games at Buckland and Meridian Parks.

Professional umpire David Kramer at Buckland Park 2017 from The inscribed brick pavers at Buckland Park in Brighton



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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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