It’s not who wins or loses...
It wouldn't have been a baseball game without a little arguing about the rules. But the (mostly) good-natured rules rhubarb that
followed the old-fashioned baseball game at Rock Ledge Historic Site on Labor Day was hardly typical.
At issue was which decade should apply.
The visiting Territorial All-Stars (consisting of Denver-area “ballists” experienced in 1800s-style baseball) had come down expecting to play by 1860s rules, but Andy “Slugger” Morris, who manages the ranch for Colorado Springs Park (and whose Camp Creek Sluggers team consisted mainly of City Parks employees) would like future games at Rock Ledge to follow 1880s rules.
Why? Because that was the era of the Chambers family, who essentially started the ranch. Around the same time in history, Colorado Springs was forming its first semi-pro team, the Reds, in a league that included Denver, Pueblo and Leadville.
Not that Morris was making excuses for his team's 25-9 loss in the nine-inning contest. He even noted that it was an improvement over the previous year's 30-9 debacle. However, he noted, with tongue in cheek, “They came to our hayfield, they should play by our rules. By the time we got the rules figured out, we were 20 runs behind.”
Editor's note: The 200-some spectators lining the field just below the old Chambers house might have thought that pitching, hitting and fielding had more to do with the score difference, but what do they know?
Gene Smith, a City Parks administrator who helped organize the game, added the historically appropriate diatribe that the Denverites “think they're the capital, but they're not. The capital should stay here in Colorado City.”
Drew “Wilkes Booth” Frady, the All-Stars captain, was in a better mood (it helps to be on the winning side). “The Sluggers played hard and they were great hosts,” said Frady, who helped form the Denver-area Colorado Vintage Baseball Association over a decade ago.
The 1860s rules that were used included the requirement - implemented numerous times during the game - that if a hit ball, foul or fair, was caught on one bounce, the batter was out. No one wore gloves in the field, and the ball had to be pitched underhanded.
In the 1880s, pitchers were starting to throw sidearmed and catchers were even starting to use gloves and masks.
Whatever rules are used, Rock Ledge Ranch officials hope to continue the tradition next Labor Day. “It was a splendid contest,” Morris conceded… before sniffing that one of the Denver players had been anachronistically wearing a wristwatch (instead of a “more manly” pocketwatch) and that another allegedly had ridden to the game sidesaddle.
Westside Pioneer article