Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Boys of Summer - The Bransfield Brothers

Baseball, at least in Belltown, often became a family affair. From the 1890s through the 1950s, the summer sport would see fathers who were succeeded by sons, or brother acts, such as the Bransfield's, dominate the diamond. Harold "Hal", Paul "Jake", William "Bill" and Edward "Ed" played side by side for the Belltown Bombers, in games that usually took place on weekends. They "practiced" in the East Hampton factory league playing along side brother John, Joe and Jim. And not to be outdone, sisters Ellen, Marion and Marge were active in ladies softball. The Middlesex County League was important for the Towns pride, but several of the factories, including Bevin Brothers, Gong Bell, Summit Thread and N.N. Hills Brass had a twilight league that more than 125 men participated in. It served as training for new talent or where semi-retired players could get some activity after they left the Bombers.

In the County League, I've been told that Hal Bransfield was one of the best to play the game, yet Paul, know as "Jake" with a .410 average, received the M. J. Higgins loving cup as the leading hitter in 1937. Brother Bill hit .342 that same year (sixth best in the league).

I remember Harold or as everyone called him, "Brandy" as the Assistant Post Master, who had begun his career as a postal clerk around 1926. I met him in 1961 when by father Donald was appointed by President Kennedy to succeed retiring Post Master Forest Thatcher. I remember this wiry elder. Little did I know he was one of the greats!

Brother Joe also worked at the Post Office as a rural carrier and would stop with his wife Connie for dinner or an ice cream sundae at Thatcher Drug. Working the old soda fountain, townspeople would be greeted and served by Mary Ann (Nichols) Wall, Donna (Skinner) Mitchell, Carol (Christopher) Hart or me (at least between 1964 to 1966), the blue plate special, a hamburger or a hot fudge sundae after a hard days work.