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Vintage base ball games crank up Saturday

Let the games begin.

Base ball, yes, the old-fashioned variety, returns for one day to Glenwood Springs’ Field of Dreams on Saturday, July 12.

No, the players won’t be appearing out of the corn, but local players will don the 1860s-era uniforms and take on the Colorado Territorial All-Stars for a look back at a game that helped define America.



The games are set for 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

This year’s matchup will take place in the field just west of Glenwood Springs High School, between the bike path and the Roaring Fork River, where it’s cool and shady.



Admission is $5 per person or $15 for the family. Anyone in an 1800s costume gets in free.

Glenwood Sluggers competing this year include Robin, Ryan and Kyle Millyard, John Hines, Randy Henrie, Bob Strait, Jim Hawkins, Miles Silverman and Greg Jeung.

The Glenwood Sluggers’ opponents, the Colorado Territorial All-Stars, under the aegis of the Colorado Vintage Base Ball Association, tour the state playing home teams fielded by local historical societies.

As Frontier Historical Museum director Cindy Cochran explained, the All-Stars play as much to educate as to win.

“Their goal is education, to show what the game was like in the 1860s, presented as living history. But when you get a bunch of guys together, it turns into a game,” she said.

There will be food and drink available at the field. Information: 945-4448.

Base ball got its start in America in the 1830s in New England, but it wasn’t until 30 years later, when gold brought Easterners to the banks of Cherry Creek that the game came to the Centennial State.

After the Civil War ended and the soldiers came home, the game took off in a big way. Teams formed in every little burg, including Glenwood Springs.

It’s this early form of the sport that will be played Saturday.

The basics will be familiar – a ball is thrown, hit or missed, the players run the bases and field the ball – but there are differences. Pitchers are hurlers, players are ballists and fielders are scouts.

Back then, ballists did not use gloves, but the ball was softer than today’s.

Batters can’t take a stride, that is, take a step forward to put their whole body into the swing. Instead, they must stand with both feet on the ground.

Cranks – the folks watching the game – are encouraged to participate, said player John Hines.

If a crank catches a foul ball, either on the fly, on a “hopper” or one bounce, which is allowed, the at-bat team can pay them off with a dime or a quarter. Otherwise the batter/ballist is out.

In turn, cranks who argued with the umpire and yell out such epithets as “thunderation” or “flapdoodle” could be fined 10 cents to $1.

It may be hard to believe, especially in light of the way today’s games are played, but base ball was considered a gentleman’s sport. If a player had to push into the crowd to catch a ball, he doffed his cap to the ladies for disturbing them.

In fact, it was ungentlemanly to steal or slide into a base or say “balderdash” or “dagnabit.”

The players even called each other “Sir.” Imagine!


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