At exactly 10:27 a.m. on a sunny June morning, several dozen men stand on a scruffy baseball field in Freedom, N.H. They look a bit tired--they were up reminiscing with long-lost friends and singing songs until late the previous night. But all have stumbled out of bed in time for the annual Saturday morning softball games. The basses and baritones have lined up along the third baseline, while the tenors stretch out along the first baseline. Silence falls across the field. They will play ball at 10:30 a.m. But first, in four-part harmony, they will belt out "The Star Spangled Banner," hats off, hands across their hearts.

So begins the Saturday morning of the 25th reunion of UNH's New Hampshire Gentlemen, an annual celebration of the "good singing, good times" that have been the group's motto since the beginning. Dubbed "Gents Weekend," the annual event has grown over the years to include wives, partners and children, and this year has drawn a crowd of nearly 150. They gather at Purity Springs Resort in Freedom, N.H., for reminiscing and toasting, stories and, of course, song.

This morning's version of the national anthem, arranged almost 20 years ago by Nathan Amsden '87, is a favorite, and it can be sung anywhere at least four Gents (with the right voices) are gathered. In groups large and small, Gents have performed this national anthem all over the world: at Red Sox games and atop White Mountain peaks, in English pubs and on California beaches, on stage in New York City and at countless UNH athletic events.

When the last note of the anthem fades, it's time to play ball. No one keeps track of who wins these softball "grudge" matches, but this year the bass and baritone team is rumored to be a good bet. It goes without saying that the younger guys will hold their own against the aging alumni. Family and friends, meanwhile, bask in the sun as they watch the game and catch up on the latest news. Sometimes they even cheer if something exciting happens. (It rarely does.)

In the evening, after the annual banquet when the graduating seniors are welcomed into the ranks of alumni, the Gents will hold their annual "Singing Through The Years" concert. Gents will get up in front of the crowd and sing--or at least attempt to sing--songs from their era. Other singing is impromptu, around the campfire or under the stars. They may reminisce about highlights: Singing Valentines, a performance on the NBC "Today Show," the televised festival with the Wellesley Widows, Middlebury Mischords and Brown Hijinx. Low points might come up, too: such as the infamous 1979 Colby College concert, where beleaguered Gents tried to sing "My Wild Irish Rose" to a group of inebriated Mardi Gras partygoers.

They may sing the anthem again, or resurrect ballads from the early days, barbershop standards from the middle years, and modern rock 'n' roll numbers. They'll sing as long as they've got an audience to listen, and then, when everyone else has gone off to bed, they'll gather in close and re-sing the songs that have meant the most to them through the years. ~