Betty & Jake's Tavern may not have goose eggs as an entree on its menu, but its men's senior slow-pitch softball team has cooked up some big ones in the loss column this season.
The 50-and-over team finished 56-0 in the regular season and went 4-0 this week in capturing the Anne Arundel County Senior Softball Association's league championship.
Meanwhile, Danny's Restaurant of Pasadena claimed the 55-and-over title after going 3-0 in the county tournament and defeating the Greyhounds Tuesday night, 18-5, at Randazzo Park in Severn.
Both teams have qualified for the Senior Softball World Series Sept. 22-28 in Wayne County, Mich., where they will join more than 100 teams from around the nation competing in five age classifications.
Betty & Jake's beat defending league champion PBC, 12-7, Wednesday night, giving the team its third tournament championship. The Tony Campagna-coached squad captured the Maryland and Virginia state tournaments earlier this year and will take its 75-1 mark to this weekend's National Softball Association World Series in Indianapolis.
Betty & Jake's only loss came to Petrock's of New Jersey, 13-11, in the Maryland tournament in June at Randazzo Park. However, the locals battled their way out of the losers' bracket and defeated Petrock's twice in later rounds to claim the tournament crown.
The tournament victory in Virginia qualified Betty & Jake's to compete in next month's Senior Softball World Series.
"Betty & Jake's is the best team we've ever had in our league," said Wooden Nickel's Barry Shetrone, who watched Betty & Jake's defeat his team, 9-1, in the county league playoffs Tuesday. "It's basically an All-Star team. They have guys who have been playing the game of slow-pitch for years and they hit the ball well and make you earn every run.
"The key to this game is defense. You can't give a team five or six outs an inning and still win."
Campagna, who also plays the outfield for Betty & Jake's, agrees.
"Our defense has kept us in a lot of ballgames this season," said Campagna, owner of the Catonsville tavern. "It's been a team effort, and not just one individual has carried this team. We have some very talented ballplayers and we've been together for a while, but we worked out hard in the winter getting ready for the season."
Betty & Jake's lineup includes five players with batting averages of .575 or better in Gus Cesanero, Jim Price, Rob Kidd, John Powell and Glen Bailey. Price, Powell and Kidd provide the power, combining for 31 home runs in the regular season, while outfielders Billy Steele and Michael Dove and shortstop George Hadel anchor a defense that yielded only 14 errors and turned 23 double plays. Other defensive standouts are Glen Bailey, Gerald Bailey and Mike Dove.
Bobby Pollero is Betty & Jake's ace pitcher, with a 56-1 record, while Kidd and Don Buckley make occasional mound appearances. Key utility players for Betty & Jake's are George Saunders, Paul Horvath and David Winkles.
Leading hitters on Danny's 20-man roster are Arthur Ehlers of Silver Spring (.633), Harold "Hal" Grier (.605), Frenchie Letan of Pasadena (.557), Paul Burgee of Pasadena (.533) and Jay Solomon of Montgomery County (.503).
"Our team has been together for a while and we've picked up some players that have made us stronger," said Danny's coach Billy Criss, whose team boasts a 71-13 record. "We've really come together nicely as a unit."
Danny's qualified for next month's Senior Softball World Series by going 6-1 and winning the National Capital Senior Softball Classic in May at Braddock Park in Annandale, Va.
Danny's also won the Newark Classic in Newark, Del., on April 28 and suffered only one defeat, to Spindlers, in 55-and-over regular-season league play.
In the county tournament this week, Danny's won three straight games by the slaughter rule, defeating Garden's, 17-1, and the Greyhounds by scores of 20-2 and 24-4.
Besides the Michigan tournament, Danny's is looking ahead to defending its title at the Maryland Senior Olympics, Oct. 10-12 at
Towson State University.
"Right now, everyone on our team is excited about the Senior Olympics," said Criss. "We're going to win at Towson State, and I think all the teams there know we will. They know we're pretty powerful, and they know the kind of season we've had."
The end of one season signals the start of another one for the seniors. The fall softball season begins Aug. 17 and will include 14 teams from the 50-and-over and 55-and-over leagues. Each team will play one double header a week at Old Mill High School.
"We'll play once a week to keep the bones from hardening up," said Donny Brooks of Danny's, who is nursing four broken ribs from an outfield collision. "Heck, you can't keep the old guys down."