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In a rare high point for the Camp Creek Cloud Busters, Kyle "Beast" Gamache is cheered by his teammates as he crosses the plate with a home run in the fifth inning of the Labor Day game on the Rock Ledge Ranch hayfield. Also looking on at right (less enthusiastically) are members of the opponents, the Denver All-Stars. Gamache's blast soared into right field, just south of the Rock Ledge House, scattering some of the cranks while the Denver All-Star fielders gave futile chase. The hit put the Cloud Busters down just 4-3, but their foes scored six runs in their next at-bat to pad a lead they would never relinquish. Note: The man sitting at the table under the umbrella is the scorekeeper.

Photo essay: Action at the annual Rock Ledge Ranch Labor Day vintage baseball game

       With close to 1,000 “cranks” sitting close by in their anachronistic sling chairs, the Camp Creek Cloud Busters lost for the third straight year to the Denver All-Stars in the annual vintage game played on Labor Day (Sept. 7) at the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site hayfield.
       The final score, 13-8, was actually closer than it seemed, with a couple of smashes by Cloud Buster hitters down the left-field line - one ruled foul, the other fair - that wound up being rally-killers for the local squad.
       With the athletes in old-time uniforms, the game was played by mid-1800s rules, which includes no fielding gloves, balls caught on a hop being outs and cranks (fans) being able to catch balls and toss them to fielders for outs. This rule especially helped the Cloud Busters, being the local squad.
       Afterward, ranch manager/team captain Andy "Anvil" Morris grumbled about the umpire's calls, but conceded that his team needs to “make a few changes in the off-season and we'll be all right.”
       As usual, the crowd got to see more than just a baseball game. Punkin, the ranch cow, grazed in center field for a couple of innings; an “escaped convict” (played by volunteer Richie Thompson) stole a pie but got “caught” by Morris and pie-baker, Rachel Tomaselli; and “Presidents” George Washington (Dave Wallace), Abe Lincoln (Mike Houston) and Teddy Roosevelt (Don Moon) worked the crowd, with Abe even lining a basehit for the Cloud Busters.
       The All-Stars are a collection of "ballists" from a Denver-area vintage league. They'd already played a game the week before, skunking a team from Manitou in a first-time fundraiser for the town's Heritage Center. The Rock Ledge game, like most ranch events, was a fundraiser too, because the city budget for the historic site is well short of ranch costs.
       The Cloud Busters are made up of ranch staffers, volunteers and other local Rock Ledge supporters who get together once a year to practice a few times and then play the Labor Day game. Rock Ledge is a city-owned working ranch off 30th Street at Gateway Road, styled after the late 1800s.
LEFT: After chasing a hit to the front porch of the Rock Ledge House, Camp Creek right-fielder Scott "Red" Vehlewald fires the ball in. RIGHT: During a break in the game, "convict" Richie Thompson slaps a pie in the face of aggrieved "baker" Rachel Tomaselli. Fear not: She got him a second later with the pie in her hand.
Bloomers flaring, Beth "Snake" Harmon - who somehow got onto the Camp Creek team despite being a girl - runs out an infield hit. Looking on at right is the game umpire and at left the Denver All-Stars catcher.
John "Shotz" Winters, a Camp Creek ballplayer who doubles as ranch foreman, leads Rock Ledge cow Punkin into the outfield during the fourth inning. She grazed there placidly for two innings before Winters led her off. Despite offering a sizeable target, no balls hit her. Ranch manager Andy Morris has previously explained that the girth of a cow is such that even being hit by a ball would cause no damage.
After lining a basehit to left, "Abe Lincoln" (Mike Houston) gets forced out at second on a ground ball by the next Camp Creek batter. In the photo, the second-baseman has already touched the bag and thrown toward first (the ball's in the air at upper left) in an attempt to get a double play.
Despite micro- (and even macro-) aggressive taunts from the male ballplayers, suffragettes young and old (chiefly Rock Ledge staffers and docents) interrupt the game to march onto the field. They were seeking the vote for women and shorter working hours. They were vociferously joined by "Presidents" Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, who failed somehow to note that during their actual terms in office women were not yet able to vote.

Westside Pioneer article and photos
(Posted 9/7/15; Outdoors: Rock Ledge Ranch)

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