Brian Crumbling is no stranger on the Susquehanna League baseball circuit.
The 50-year-old right-hander, who is now pitching for the Hallam Express, has seen and experienced a lot during his lengthy playing career.
Insane come-from-behind victories, improbable late-game collapses, exciting pennant races and championships, as well as a handful of cellar-dwelling seasons.
Never once, however, did the 32-year veteran ever experience what he did just a few weeks ago, during and after a game against Felton on Thursday, May 31.
Due to a change in the way the Susquehanna League counts official contests this season, all games must be completed over seven (or 6 1/2) innings to qualify. That means that contests are now suspended at whatever point in the game where play is stopped, with the intention of being resumed at a later date.
Celebrating by voicemail: That brings us to Crumbling’s performance against the Ducks. The Express veteran shut out Felton over five innings while his team built a 5-0 lead.
The game, however, was not official because it was halted with Hallam batting in the top of the sixth.
That contest, ironically enough, was the one that would have earned Crumbing his 100th career victory. So when the he left the field that night he figured that he would have to wait a little while longer before reaching the milestone.
As it turned out, however, the wait wasn’t too long.
“I found out the next day,” Crumbling said after picking up victory No. 102 after Hallam rallied to defeat Stewartstown last Thursday.
Typically, Crumbling would be able to celebrate his milestone on the field with his teammates. Not so this time.
“Never celebrated a win by a voicemail on the phone,” he joked with a big smile.
Crumbling was given the news that the game was considered official after Felton conceded the contest the following afternoon. The Express had scored four runs in the top of the sixth to take a 9-0 lead, so the Ducks opted to concede.
“It is what it is I guess,” joked Crumbling, who has played with every team in the league right now except Stewartstown and York Township.
Already has three wins this season: At his age, Crumbling’s chances to pitch regularly come few and far between these days. While he’s pitched for Hallam the past handful of seasons, the Express have a core number of younger and talented pitchers to eat up innings in the rotation.
Guys such as Matt Ruth, Alex Tucci and others have regular spots, while the veteran Crumbling is more of a spot-starter and situational reliever these days. That makes his three victories so far this season over the first 15 games even more remarkable.
That fact is not lost on Crumbling’s teammates. They all are aware that the guy that’s been playing baseball longer than many of them have even been alive plans to retire for good at the end of the campaign.
“Crumb is great,” Hallam first baseman Angel Matias said. “He may not throw the fastest, but he comes in and executes his pitches to the right spots.”
Crumbling has already picked out what he hopes will be the right spot for him next summer.
“I said that when I turned 50 before the season started that this is it,” Crumbling said. “Hopefully by next year at this time I’ll be loving life down in Florida.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.