Thunderation! Rock Ledge Ranch’s annual vintage baseball game nearly a whitewash
Whoever thought the annual Labor Day vintage baseball game would turn into a pitcher's duel?
Amid whispers about the secret, anachronistic installation of a humidor at the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site, the hometown players were celebrating an unlikely 2-1 victory Sept. 3 over the Colorado Territorial All-Stars (mostly from the Denver area).
The afternoon contest kicked off a full day at the city-owned, 1880s-style working ranch. Also included were a barn dance, Indian drumming/dancing and three bands playing to raise money for firefighters.
The baseball contest was tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the eighth inning and the pressure in the air almost palpable, when John “Shotz” Winters of the Camp Creek Cloud Busters led off with a single. Danny “Scoop” Summers drove Winters to third with a line drive to center. However, Summers was tagged out when he overran first base. (Under the late 1800s rules by which vintage games are played, runners are only safe on their bases, including first.)
Kyle “The Rake” Gamache saved his teammate from wearing “goat's horns” by driving a ball over the right scout's head to plate Winters with the go-ahead run. The play had a side benefit for an apparent convict - recently the resident of a local hoosegaw, as might be speculated by his distinctively striped clothing - who was standing amid the fans in right field. He caught Gamache's hit on a hop and handed it to an All-Stars ballist. Under 1880s rules, this constituted an out, and soon the happy All-Stars were declaring the convict a “free man” - a consensus that did not sit well with a constable who had been appointed for the game by Rock Ledge manager (and Cloud Busters team captain) Andy “Anvil” Morris.
Despite this criminal turn of events, the run stood up in the top of the ninth, and the Cloud Busters celebrated victory over the All-Stars for the first time since 2010.
Asked about the low score, Summers claimed it was mainly due to good fielding. “This was the cleanest defense the teams have ever played,” said the long-time Cloud Busters first-base tender.
Morris added, wiping away a tear, that “the boys spent the evening before sewing and crocheting stuffed animals for the widows and orphans home,” resulting in abstinence from liquor. “The boys felt this would sharpen their skills, as it undoubtedly did in the field - at bat, not so much. But we were able to keep the keen edge of concentration going even with the disruption and capture of the escaped convict.”
Often in past years, both teams have scored in double digits, with the winning team's tally as high as 30 runs one year. Contributing to the high-scoring propensity are rules favoring the batters, fielders being barehanded and the fact that the hayfield playing surface provides almost no even bounces.
Westside Pioneer article