Camp Creek nine outslug All-Stars in Labor Day set-to

       It was one of those edge-of-the-seat moments, like at a Rockies game, when the opposition is mounting a desperate ninth-inning comeback after falling several runs behind, and the tide of victory seems suddenly to have slipped away.

Lefty Caleb "Snatch" Dills of the Cloudbusters connects with a liner (note ball just leaving bat).
Westside Pioneer photo

       “I was nervous, thinking, 'these guys are going to get a single and tie things up,'” commented a much-relieved captain/manager Andy “Anvil” Morris after his Camp Creek Cloudbusters hung on for a 17-15 victory in the annual Labor Day vintage-baseball game at Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site. The score had been 17-9 entering the final frame.
       “We needed that rally earlier,” said Ian “Traveller” Tinney of the Territorial All-Stars, a team made up of players from different teams in the Denver area's Colorado Vintage Base Ball Association. “We almost caught 'em,” added Richard “Rube” Foster of the All-Stars.

Laughter and a return to the game followed a delicate moment when a ball in play briefly rolled under the skirt of one of the historically dressed ladies, complicating All-Star players' hopes of fielding it speedily.
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       Morris himself suggested a Rockies parallel… but not exactly in the way he would have liked. The Major League team was playing simultaneously in Denver that afternoon (Sept. 6), with ace Ubaldo Jimenez on the mound. “My mom was listening to the Rockies game,” Morris said, ruefully. “It puts things in perspective.”
       It's also true that the Rock Ledge attendance - people lining the field, mostly seeking out shady spots under trees - was much lower than at Coors Field - a few hundred compared to 40,000-plus. On the other hand, Morris doesn't have to pay his players, and the admission proceeds will be used to defray ranch expenses.
       In keeping with Rock Ledge's historic theme, the crowd got a sense of what baseball looked like 140-some years ago, right down to players ringing a bell when they scored, the umpire asking the fans (“cranks”) to help decide a few calls and the colorful uniforms some of the Denver players wore.
       It's even possible that in the 1860s or '70s, a cow might have wandered onto the field at times, such as midway through the game. Of course, “wandered” might be a slight misnomer, seeing as ranch staffer John Winters tied her rope to a stake and even left a pumpkin for her to nibble on in short right field.
       “That's what inspired our boys, when Patches made her appearance,” Morris said. “She's their hero.”
       In fact, he said, it was “fresh whole buttermilk” that his players have all been drinking, providing them the strength to “definitely give it to those boys from the north.”

Cloudbusters catcher Andy "Anvil" Morris slaps the tag on Ian "Traveller" Tinney in a close play at the plate that saved a run for the Camp Creek contingent.
Westside Pioneer photo

       As a whole, the game was unusually high-scoring. Players for both sides hammered the ball past the crowd, including drives to the base of the Rock Ledge House front porch and a “daisy cutter” that slammed against the ice cream vending cart down the right field foul line (just missing two customers). But the Cloudbusters (also known as the Camp Creek Sluggers) “grabbed the leather in style,” as people used to say in the 1800s, including fewer errors and two tag-out plays at home plate that turned out to be the difference in the game.
       The All-Stars mustered a 5-2 lead in the second inning, but the Cloudbusters came back with four in the top of the third to take a lead they would never relinquish.
       The triumph was the fourth in six years for the Cloudbusters. Some of them are ranch staff and volunteers, while others are local athletes who Morris talked into joining him in baseball where gloves aren't used, the surface is a hayfield with crazy hops, and balls caught on one bounce are outs... all that, and the worst anyone says is “Tarnation” when their rally falls short.

Westside Pioneer article