Great Smoky Mountains
Season: W-L (.PCT) 13 - 1 (.929)
Franchise: W-L (.PCT) 103 - 9 (.920)
Postseason W-L (.PCT) 37 - 9 (.804)
Wild Card Series (3): SP12,SP13,SP14
Division Championship Series (8): SP09,SP10,SP11,SP12,SP13,SP14,SP15,SP17
World Series (8): SP09,SP10,SP11,SP12,SP13,SP14,SP15,SP17
World Series (6): SP09,SP10,SP11,SP12,SP13,SP15
When the Shannon twins arrived in Manassas in the summer of 1995, nobody at the time knew that the greatest wiffleball franchise in world history would be born on Blandsford Drive. Jack and Jim, having previously been confined to a small yard on Chicago's South Side, gazed upon their super-sized Manassas lot with lustful eyes, knowing, perhaps not consciously, that one day it would be perfect for a wiffleball field. Ty Fletcher and Colin Gannon happened to be residents on Blandsford Drive when the Shannons pulled up on that muggy August day.
The twins were confronted by what they considered to be strange accents and even stranger surroundings (why the hell is the mud and dirt colored red, they wondered?) but made quick friends with Colin and Ty who lived next door to each other right down the street. All 4 shared a common enjoyment of baseball and played together and against one another in the Greater Manassas Baseball League (GMBL, for the non-laymen). The foundation was being laid. GMBL, and its totally non-diddler coaches, taught the boys how to mash like McGwire and Sosa. And they did. They even have the all-star shirts to prove it.
At the same time, Ty and Colin attended Catholic School in Manassas while the Shannon twins slummed it in the public schools. Little did they know that their time spent in the state-controlled, borderline-fascist education system would yield to them the 5th and final piece needed for the birth of a dynasty. The Shannon twins befriended a boy named Jake Tomko, a New Mexican by birth but a Manasshole by upbringing. Tomko would also eventually play in the GMBL with the other 4 (he previously played in a league where the fields were actually on the grounds of the county landfill) and the foundation was completed.
Wiffleball was the perfect game for the 5 boys once baseball season had ended in June. They wanted to continue to play the game they loved but never could get enough people (or a field) to have any sort of pick-up games with a hardball. The yellow plastic bat was the solution. They just needed a field. The sand volleyball court in the Shannon's backyard, dug out by their father amd used religiously by their mother and sisters, beckoned to them like a temptress in a $40 a night San Juan hostel. And so it began in those middle school summers. Greatness was born.
Their games started off crude, with a beach chair (and eventually a children's plastic slide) acting as a strike zone and the volleyball poles acting as bases and foul lines. It was not regulation by any means. But it had a fence in the back, which meant home runs could be hit. Which is really all the young men cared about. After all, the MLB was telling them at the time that the chicks dig the long ball. And they loved to hit them. The balls were frequently cracked, scuffed, and otherwise torn to shit. The bats were often bent and missing a top or bottom (contrary to media reports, they did NOT play dizzy bat in middle school). But this is where they cut their teeth, and much like Tupac's days with Digital Underground, it would blossom into something much grander and thugged-out than they could have possibly imagined.
After a few years of playing in the sand volleyball court - and Tomko getting his driver's license, the boy's decided to take over the unoccupied space in the yard (with Mo Shannon, the twins' father, remarking about how they were going to turn the yard into a "redneck riveria"). "It's Manassas", they would reply. No more needed to be said. So the Shannon twins and Jake drove to Home Depot to pick up as much green fencing as they could get their hands on. Their field of dreams was complete in their heads; they just had to make it a reality. The left field wall was set; it was the tree line. So they decided to turn it into a green monster and nailed fencing about 20 feet high. The center field fencing would require the purchasing of 4 ft fence posts to be hammered into the ground, and so it was done. Right field was irrelevant. No one hits it over there anyway, right? The strike board (which was definitely better than PWL's current version) was perfect size and held in place by a volleyball pole base stolen, er, borrowed, from the Shannon's mom's volleyball club. It was utter perfection.
Let the games begin. This is how the game went for the next 3 years. Jack and Jake formed a two man team with Jim Shannon alternating teammates between Ty and Colin. You see, Colin sucked at hitting for a long time. But Ty was an unreliable teammate, known to leave at any point during a game after getting mysterious text messages. Despite no speed limit (speed was generally controlled by telling the pitcher, "nice pitch Nolan Ryan; throw it slower you f****** cheater"), hitting ruled the early days. Scores in the 20's were common. Stats were kept on an ad-hoc basis with absolutely no consistently or accuracy, but they obviously were cited against one another in arguments, regardless. Until one day Jim figured out how to throw a slider and revolutionized the game forever. Scores dropped, home run totals fell, and the competition grew fierce. Pitching was becoming a major factor. And Tomko and Jim were the two best. It was around 11th grade when the 5 bros decided they wanted to take their public and find a league to play in. Unfortunately, they weren't so good at googling back then and somehow missed the PWL after two years of searching.
But then came college. Jack and Jake would go on to James Madison as roommates, Jim would go to Longwood (after completely botching the admissions process at JMU, where he'd transfer to the next year), Colin would end up at Mary Washington, and Ty at Virginia Tech. It was over winter break of their freshman years that Jack found the PWL. He sent a Facebook message to the PWL saying simply, "We want it -- 5 of us." But what would they call themselves, they wondered? Well, they would have to use Blandsford in the name, they concluded, to pay homage to their humble beginnings. But what else? Alliteration was a must, and after going through a number of choices, including the "Chemo Bombs," suggested by the Shannon's father in reference to his cancer treatment, they settled on the "Barnburners." It just flows of the tongue, they thought. So in the spring of 2009, the team officially joined the ranks of the Potomac Wiffleball League.
As most of you know, The PWL has not been the same since. Jake and Jack would drive up from JMU, joined by Colin coming from Fredricksburg and occasionally Jim from Longwood, each Sunday for the games until school let out for the summer. After the semester, they'd have the full 5 members at their disposal. The first season, minus forfeiting their very first game for being late, was a massacre. They tore through the league like AIDS tour through McConaughey in Dallas Buyer's Club. Granted, at this time, the league was still filled with a sizeable "social" contingent, or as Jim put it while umping one game with a microphone on, "these are a bunch of dungeon and dragon weirdos." Chris Gallway, league commissioner, claims to have lost the audio on that game. The Barnburners would like to believe him.
The Barnburners always opt out of the summer season. It's unfortunately timed poorly with football season. And they also like to give the league a reprieve from constant slaughter. So their second season came in Spring 2010. It was marked by overindulgence in alcohol, perhaps spurred by their need to cope with instant success and rise to fame gained in the previous season, and the most losses in a regular season in the franchise's history. There was one particular day where 4 of the team members had been out the night before (and definitely not at a high school party where they definitely felt very comfortable) which led to disastrous consequences. Jack Shannon was seen puking red fruit punch out of Jake's car on I-66 while driving to the game. He attempted to rally and play. He saw three pitches, struck out, and proceeded to fall asleep under a tree. He awoke only to further relieve his stomach of its contents. Most importantly, this is the year where the PWL adopted pretty much all of the Barnburner's in-house rules (strike board, etc) and even led to the departure of league cover-boy Tony Ragano. They'd regroup in the playoffs and cruise to their 2nd world series in as many seasons.
The next 3 years can be fast-forwarded a bit, as their dominance became mundane. Back-to-back walk off home runs by Colin Gannon in the 2011 and 2012 world series provided fireworks to the playoffs, but the outcomes were otherwise always inevitable. Tomko, the team's ace pitcher and funny man, was lost to the depths of Charlottesville following the 4th season. The other 4 members moved into a house together in Arlington (mostly for team-building exercises). Their 2013 season is the single most dominant season in PWL history, and yet the highlights are few. Much like Queen Elizabeth, they were unchallenged to the throne.
When asked about the franchise's future past 2014, team founder Jack replied, "Who knows, but we do know that we are unmatched, unparalleled, and unequalled in this game."
|Colin Gannon||Blandsford Barnburners||14||92||2014 SP||84||25||8||1||8||18||17||.298||.702||1.000||3||0||0||22||5||27||7||22||0||0|
|Jack Shannon||Blandsford Barnburners||14||92||2014 SP||92||42||6||1||20||31||31||.457||1.196||1.652||0||0||0||13||2||15||13||22||0||0|
|Jim Shannon||Blandsford Barnburners||10||42||2014 SP||51||35||2||1||16||30||27||.686||1.706||2.392||1||0||0||4||0||4||4||7||0||0|
|Ty Fletcher||Blandsford Barnburners||12||84||2014 SP||76||32||5||2||2||14||9||.421||.618||1.039||0||0||0||9||1||10||9||24||1||0|
|Colin Gannon||Blandsford Barnburners||2014 SP||6||4||3||0||66||16||1||0||1||2||23||4||0||100||26.00||2||0.46||.242||0.62||2.73||5.30|
|Jack Shannon||Blandsford Barnburners||2014 SP||6||3||0||0||90||17||3||0||5||5||37||4||0||100||36.00||5||0.83||.189||0.47||3.75||6.20|
|Jim Shannon||Blandsford Barnburners||2014 SP||1||1||1||0||18||4||1||0||0||2||11||1||0||100||7.00||1||0.86||.222||0.57||.86||9.40|
|Ty Fletcher||Blandsford Barnburners||2014 SP||1||0||0||0||51||7||0||0||0||0||17||4||0||100||22.50||0||0.00||.137||0.31||2.49||4.50|
|Colin Gannon||Blandsford Barnburners||2014 SP||1B||9.0||49||11||3||2||.875||8.00||1.71|
|Colin Gannon||Blandsford Barnburners||2014 SP||C||3.0||17||18||0||0||1.000||-||6.35|
|Colin Gannon||Blandsford Barnburners||2014 SP||P||8.0||27||20||0||1||.952||21.00||4.44|
|Jack Shannon||Blandsford Barnburners||2014 SP||1B||3.0||22||3||3||0||1.000||-||1.64|
|Jack Shannon||Blandsford Barnburners||2014 SP||C||1.0||6||6||0||0||1.000||-||6.00|
|Jack Shannon||Blandsford Barnburners||2014 SP||P||8.0||36||22||0||1||.957||23.00||3.67|
|Jim Shannon||Blandsford Barnburners||2014 SP||1B||6.0||22||8||1||0||1.000||-||2.45|
|Jim Shannon||Blandsford Barnburners||2014 SP||C||4.0||11||16||0||0||1.000||-||8.73|
|Jim Shannon||Blandsford Barnburners||2014 SP||P||3.0||7||3||0||0||1.000||-||2.57|
|Ty Fletcher||Blandsford Barnburners||2014 SP||C||11.0||59||87||0||0||1.000||-||8.85|
|Ty Fletcher||Blandsford Barnburners||2014 SP||P||6.0||23||21||0||0||1.000||-||5.48|