Thesis student and right fielder Willis Schueler sits in the dugout as he watches his fellow team members, the New College Bones, swiftly strike out their opponents, Dean’s Tree Service. Team Dean’s talks a lot of smack, but the Bones are in the lead, 8 to 1.
“This season started out slow for us, but we’ve been playing some good ball recently,” Schueler said. “We’re hitting our prime at the right time with playoffs in a month.” Fellow team member and professor of psychology Gordon Bauer has played on the team for 18 years, but is sitting out this game.
“They usually prefer to have players that can see and run and things like that,” Bauer said. He is one of the few who came out to support the Bones during their Sunday games at 17th Street Park.
“From season to season the character has changed,” Bauer said. “There would be season where we would draw 20 students or so for each of our games or more and students would have chants and waves and things like that. But we haven’t had that fan base in awhile.”
Bauer suggested more students on the team as a way to bring back that fan base. Schueler and thesis student Keith Sommers are the only two current students who play for the Bones. The rest are New College faculty, staff, alumni and their family members.
According to team captain and Professor of Economics, Richard Coe, the team used to consists of six or seven students every season, but they have not had that many players in a few years.
“It’s a hard thing,” Schueler said of trying to recruit more students. “It’s not for everyone. It’s hard to identify who would be willing to make the commitment and can play.”
Dean’s Tree Service gained a few more runs, but the Bones are still well in the lead, 13 to 5. Professor of Political Science Frank Alcock runs face first into the fence trying to catch a fly ball, a testimony to his dedication.
“Do you see the faculty giving up their bodies by running into fences?” Mark Johnson, an Admissions staff member, commented. “They take this very seriously.” Johnson has been on the team since he started at New College in 1985. Ultimately, for Johnson, though, it is not about the number of times the team has lost or won.
“It’s the interactions that I have with team members that I remember,” he said.
Johnson recalled one of the more memorable moments he had with the Bones during their earlier years: “After we won a game against a fairly young team, they walked off the field shaking their heads saying ‘I can’t believe we lost to a group of long-haired Woodstock refugees.’”
The Bones normally play a 14-game season and compete against a diverse group of teams that are sponsored by local businesses. The New College Bones are the only team sponsored under a non-profit.
“We have a good reputation out here because of playing the game the right way,” Coe said. “So I think we’ve done a good job of promoting the college’s name. Most people out here never heard of New College and now they have a positive opinion of us.”
The game took a rude turn for the Bones due to an unfortunate play that put Dean’s Tree Service ahead. However, in this last inning, a bad decision made by Team Dean’s dovetailed serendipitously with the Bones’ bad play, culminating in a 13-13 tie. The Bones were in the field, but seven and thirteen both proved to be unlucky numbers for them as Dean’s surged through the tie.
It was a grim defeat, but the Bones are not chasing for perfection.
“Its never been about winning for us, although, we’ve been successful sometimes,” Coe said. Since Coe founded the league in the summer of 1985, the Bones have won five championships. Yet, his main goal is to encourage more students to join the team.
Sommers, who has been playing since his second year at New College, said “As a student player, I’ve gained a nice perspective on alums and professors. I get to see professors just being average joes.”