Vintage game: Wait till next year for RLR’s Cloud Busters

       Suffragettes managed to talk Abe Lincoln into letting a woman play, but the moral high ground wasn't enough as the Camp Creek Cloud Busters fell to the visiting Denver & Rio Grande Reds Sept. 2 in the annual Rock Ledge Ranch Labor Day vintage baseball game, 12-8.

Annual Rock Ledge Ranch Labor Day baseball game... PHOTOS ACROSS TOP: Cloud Busters Kyle "Rake" Gamache (left) and John "Moody" Mandico call for the same "sky-scraper" (an 1800s term for fly balls) on a play in left field, with Gamache hanging on after they collided. BELOW Denver & Rio Grande hurler John “Crush” Sumner takes a snooze to show his disregard for a Suffragette demonstration. Teammate Levi “Angler” Bates looks on.
Westside Pioneer photos

       The nine-inning contest, using late-1800s baseball rules, was played on the historic site's hayfield before an enthusiastic crowd of close to 500 people. The gloveless players all wore old-style attire, with the Denver-area visitors especially decked out (although numerous cases of anachronistic sneakers were noted on both sides).
       Beth “Boots” Harmon - the beneficiary of the “president's” decision - wore the type of bloomers made popular by woman's rights advocates in the late 1800s. She made outs in her at-bats, but helped at catcher by snagging two foul tips on a bounce - these were considered outs during organized baseball's early years.
       “Boots helped us out,” praised Rock Ledge Ranch (and team) manager Andy “Anvil” Morris afterward. “She inspired the whole team.”
       The only participant in the game not dressed like an old-time ball player was Lincoln (played by Mike Houston), complete with top hat and tails. In addition to driving in a “tally” during a rally that briefly brought the Cloud Busters back from an early 7-1 deficit, he served as negotiator when the Suffragettes (ranch volunteers dressed in typical women's clothes from the late 1880s) marched onto the field in the middle of the game. Many thought their demands outlandish - Denver hurler John “Crush” Sumner even lay down on the field and pretended to sleep - because after all, who ever heard of girls playing the manly game of baseball (let alone voting)?
       Morris was then asked if his praise of Harmon's play meant he agreed with the Suffragettes, to which he carefully noted that it was OK “for this particular game.”
       One aspect missing from this year's contest was livestock. In past years, Morris has often brought cows or sheep on the field, with the unabashed hope that their presence would turn the tide in favor of his boys. However, he explained, this year there's a new sheep herd that might get lost if they were let loose, and Patches the Cow isn't feeling well. How about the ranch's chickens? “They'd just run off,” Morris explained.

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