Manager Woody Harris is reluctant to describe Fairfax Furniture's success in the Industrial baseball league this season with the cliche, "It's been a team effort." But he agrees it would be applicable.
With several players hitting better than .300, a pitcher who is undefeated and a catcher durable enough to catch six games in two days, Fairfax (12-4) is set on winning the Industrial League for the second straight year.
"We've played together for so long," third baseman Bucky Weaver said. "The reason we're doing well is basically our experience. The last game we played (a 7-4 victory over Union Printers July 10), we were tied going into the last inning. I had a solo homer and (right-fielder) Terry Oxendine a two-run homer. We all rise to the occasion at different times."
John Boucher has risen to the occasion every time he has walked to the mound. He was the No. 2 pitcher this spring for George Mason University, which went to the NCAA playoffs. This summer, he is 6-0 and has an earned run average of 1.95. "I think he is the outstanding pitcher in the league," said Harris.
"I've seen him for the last three years," said Weaver. "He's really developed. He used to try to overpower hitters. Now, he's using his head."
Catcher Billy Harris, 35, Woody's son and an assistant coach at George Mason, has seen Boucher develop. "He has good movement in his fast ball," he said. "That's the difference." He also said Boucher has had good control and been able to change speeds effectively.
Billy Harris is a story in himself, generating anecdotes from teammates about his stamina in the league tournament in June. Fairfax won, receiving an automatic invitation to play in the Eastern Seaboard Tournament Aug. 23. But it was perhaps Harris' feat of catching six games in two days that stole the show.
"It's unreal," said Woody Harris, who was left with one catcher when Mark Cochran suffered a groin injury. "There's no question he gets the team going."
"It was hot," said Weaver. "And what surprised me was doing it at 35 years old. He's been around a gosh-long time."
"Yes, it was the first time," Billy Harris said, adding in good humor: "Nor will I ever do it again. It was a little tough getting around the house the next day."
Fairfax has experience at every position except first base, where Weaver said the team has put players who normally play elsewhere. "But it won't be a problem," he added.
Billy Harris calls Weaver, 25, "probably one of the best amateur players anyone has seen. He makes all the Brooks Robinson plays." Weaver (.340 average) also is the third-best hitter on a team that is batting .281. Second baseman Danny Griel, the baseball coach at Lake Braddock High School, leads the list at .372. Center fielder Kerry McMichaels has scored 20 runs and is hitting .367.
While Billy Harris plays the role of team leader ("If I'm pumped, the team seems to get pumped up"), McMichaels, who has been a timely hitter this season, keeps the players loose. "He's certainly the catalyst," said Billy Harris. "He plays hard and takes a lot of chances."
Griel and shortstop Don Hackney are also adept at turning the double play. "Danny still turns one of the best double plays I've seen," said Woody Harris.
"The real reason we're winning," said Billy Harris, "is that we're playing consistent baseball. We don't do anything to beat ourselves."