“Let them pass, back up over there next to the bleachers,” yelled Coach Larry Ferguson of the Hammerheads. Ferguson, a Double A All Star with the Texas Rangers organization, was about as loud as he was tall. Needless to say at 6 foot 8 inches, Ferguson was an imposing figure without even having to utter a single word. “Move that gear, let them get off the field, move back I said!!!” Ferguson was now standing just outside the area where the player standoff had occurred. He spotted his former High School battery mate/catcher and current Assistant Head Coach of the Redwings Alvin Danger shouting a similar order to his girls baseball team. “Get your gear girls and let’s head out so the Hammers can work out. Enough talk, more get up and go, please.” “What’s up AD?” shouted Ferguson over to his longtime friend. “Kids lining up like West Side Story over here huh Fergie?” answered Danger. Both coaches laughed and shook hands as Alvin exited the field and Larry entered the field. “Angie have the day off?” said Larry with a chuckle. “Nope,” answered Davis pointing to the bullpen area in right field, “she’s right where she belongs.”
The Angie in question was none other than Angie Danger, the most talked about athlete – male or female – in the state of Rhode Island at age 12. Angie Danger was a household name in Rhode Island youth sports and had been for a few years running. Every girls travel basketball team in Rhode Island wanted Angie on their team. In her hometown of Westfield, Angie was the #1 pick in her flag football league, which was co-ed, and she was the starting quarterback for her league’s championship team two years running. Representing her local Westfield Little League, she pitched a no-hitter in the closing game of the 2016 District 7 Championship and scored one of the two runs on her 2 run homer in the 5th inning. The following week, she hit a grand slam in the first inning and pitched 4 shutout innings to close out the Rhode Island State Tournament. And this was as an 11 year old playing up in the 12U District and State Championships. She was so good, Westfield Little League Board of Directors had to rewrite their organization by-laws to allow 11 year olds to be selected for 12U Districts. Angie was perhaps the most celebrated and sought after athlete in any sport she chose to play. And then came Coach Ferguson.
Larry Ferguson was overwhelmingly chosen as the 2017 12U District All Star Manager after Westfield had quickly exited the New England Regionals. Losses to Vermont and eventual New England Champ Connecticut were hard pills to swallow for not only Larry, but a lot of Westfielders after a very successful Rhode Island State Tournament run. Angie had been good on the mound, not great in the second game vs Connecticut, pitching 4 innings, giving up 3 runs and walking just 2 to the powerhouse Stamford, CT group that would reach the quarter finals in Williamsport. She continued to swing a hot bat, connecting on 5 hits in the 2 games to lead the team. And as the only girl in the entire New England Regional Tournament, Angie was the unofficial media darling. She was interviewed on national radio and TV programs before and after each game. Watching from the sidelines, Larry looked at this as a big time distraction and even brought it up during the manager’s meetings for the 2017 District All Stars. Despite her talent, Larry felt that Angie’s new fame had gotten to her and caused her play on the field, especially on the mound, to suffer. Alvin, a member of the Westfield Little League Board of Directors, strongly disagreed and the two even had heated words and had to be separated in the parking lot just outside the meeting hall. Alvin’s no vote was the only one out of 10 for Ferguson to become the District All Star Manager.
Angie, now 12 years old and in her last year of eligibility, was stellar in the 2017 Westfield Little League Spring season. Her dominance on the mound and at the plate drew attention from players playing on adjacent fields, local TV and social media posts, and neighboring town coaches scouting games. As was the case in 2016, Angie was a unanimous selection for the 2017 Westfield Little League 12U District All Star Team, with Manager Larry Ferguson shouting her praises in the local Westfield Gazette news. “We are lucky to have such a fantastic girl baseball player on our squad. And I think you will find our team of Westfield boys and Angie to be a force to be reckoned with.” As was expected based on their recent rift, Alvin Danger was not asked to join Ferguson’s coaching staff. Instead, Ferguson selected Andy French, Bob Sawgrass, and Manny Fernandez to assist him. Alvin, speaking candidly with his wife one night at dinner, simply stated “there is something fishy going on with Larry, and Angie is going to take the brunt of it, I’m afraid.”
To be continued…