Vintage Baseball : Tradition and History – Danny Summers (Board Member)

Travel back in time this Labor Day (September 6th) and experience the grand old game the way it was once played during the annual Old Fashioned Base Ball Game at Rock Ledge Ranch.

Cheer on the Camp Creek Cloud Busters, the local ranch team composed of hayseeds and farmhands who don’t play a
particularly clean game. But they have fun. The opponent will be an all-star team of semi-professionals, many of whom travel the country playing their unique style of ball.

The game is played under 1870s rules, for the most part, and is as fan friendly as you could ever desire. You won’t see any mitts on the players’ hands, nor will you see any balls traveling 480 feet. But you might see a cow roaming the outfield and some suffragettes from the temperance movement.

Vintage Base Ball has been sweeping the nation the last 25 to 30 years. Many cities and towns have teams and leagues and play special games on big holidays. Our game is played on a wide-open patch of land near the Rock Ledge House, a stone’s throw from the Garden of the Gods. The rocky soil means ground balls can take wicked hops and spray in all sorts of directions. Fly balls are not always easy to navigate since getting secure footing is a challenge.

The fans are part of the action. If one happens to catch a fly ball and hand it to a fielder before it hits the ground, the batter is out. Some fans don’t cooperate and have been known to toss the ball away from a fielder.

Other rules of the game are also slightly different. A batter is out if a fielder catches a batted ball on one bounce. A batter cannot overrun first base. A batter is also out if the catcher grabs a tipped ball before it hits the ground twice.

More than 1,000 fans attend our game, an annual Labor Day event at the ranch for a quarter-century. Andy Morris, who runs the ranch and is the blacksmith, goes by the nickname “Anvil.” You will likely see many other familiar faces wearing Cloud Busters attire.

Be sure to stop by and say hello on Labor Day. You might even get the chance to shake hands with former Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. George Washington has been known to make an appearance.

The grand old game lives on.

Danny Summers has been covering sports at all levels in the Pikes Peak region since 2001. He has worked as a sportswriter for The Gazette and many of its publications for two decades. He also plays in the Southern Colorado Men’s Senior Baseball League and is an avid collector of vintage baseball cards

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