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Redwood Empire Baseball League, 63+
'Vets make late-season push, seek
consistency in 2018'
By Nick Marnell
The Vets, last-place finishers one year ago, completed a
remarkable turnaround in 2017 by competing for the championship of the 65+
division of the Redwood Empire Baseball League in Santa Rosa, California. The
feel-good story ended abruptly over the September 23-24 weekend as the defending
champion Jazz swept the first two games of the best-of-three finals series.
Brad Faria led the Vets in most of the traditional offensive
categories, highlighted by an OPS of 1.394. Ben Cabanas, a part-time pitcher, was voted Rookie of the Year by the
league managers, and the Vets selected Butch Taylor as their Most Valuable Player. Taylor played every inning of every game, led
the team in stolen bases and assisted manager Don de Cordova in nearly every
aspect of running the team.
The Vets’ season highlight occurred in Game One of their semifinal
playoff series against the Seals. In the sixth inning, with the Vets trailing
by two runs and the bases loaded, first baseman Eric Williams smashed a long
home run over the right field fence to give the Vets the lead, which they would
never relinquish in the series. They beat the stunned Seals that day and won
wire-to-wire in game two to advance to the finals.
"I dedicated that home run to my father,” Williams said. "I
know he was with me, and that was for him.”
De Cordova saluted his team that never quit. "We started the
season with a roster of 22 players and for the finals we were able to field
16. Over the course of the season we lost six players due to injuries,
but this scrappy bunch continued to march on, and with their efforts, we made
it to the finals. I've never been more proud, in 28 years of managing,” de
Ralph Leef, Jazz manager, also praised the Vets, a team he
said came from nowhere and ended up the most improved team in the division.
The Vets played their best ball at the end of the season, but
de Cordova’s remarks point to the number one goal for his team in 2018: to maintain
a consistently healthy roster. For five of the games in 2017, the Vets had only
10 eligible players in the dugout. "We had the same problem last year,” de Cordova said.
Having that same problem in 2018 will make it difficult for
the Vets to return to the REBL championship series.
The Redwood Empire Baseball League is a division of the Men’s Senior Baseball League, the largest amateur baseball league in the United