By Marlys Kruger
COLFAX — The large crowd that showed up on a beautiful evening for 1880s vintage base ball to see the newly (and quickly) formed team representing the Village of Colfax saw the aptly named 150s (in reference to the 150 year celebration) pull together to force extra innings before falling 17-13 to the Menomonie Blue Caps in a match played July 18. The match was played on the grassy (and somewhat lumpy) field at the Colfax Fairgrounds and produced some interesting bounces and certainly tested the athletic ability of the Colfax players.
The Blue Caps are a vintage base ball team who had already played eight matches in a highly competitive league and proved it didn’t matter where they played as long as they had some competition and an open field. Their players set up the field with homeplate in the southeast corner by the main driveway and under a shade tree, and placed the bases around 120 feet apart, allowing for plenty of running after smacking some long balls clear over the fair buildings. Colfax started a few strikers (players) short but the Blue Caps, with all 15 strikers present, graciously offered the services of 3 of their own including Mad Dog, Hound Dog and Silver Fox. The 150s added a few more strikers from the crowd as the match went on, however.
With honorary manager “Dandy” Dale Rostamo winning the coin toss for the home team, (honorary co-manager “Cool” Clyde Prince couldn’t make it to the game), the 150s took the field and promptly gave up a few aces (runs) with “Slippery” Gary Stene doing the hurling (pitching). Alex “Crash” Buckley relieved him for a couple of innings and also saw some moon shots go out over his fielders’ heads for a few more aces. Colfax came back with five tallies (runs) when Randy “Stretch” Simpson slammed a basehit, Jon “Ringo” Ralph sent the small, hard ball into the dance hall and “Crash” brought them both in on a triple that nearly called for the oxygen tank with having to run those long bases and all. Younger brother Andy “Waterboy” Buckley used his blazing speed to leg out an infield hit, bringing Crash in and Silver Fox brought in two more aces with a long hit over the mid fielder.
Colfax added two runs later in the game when Hound Dog sent a shot over the former beverage hall for a four base (homerun), “Slippery” and Scott Elmer “Glue” both connected for daisy cutters (sharp grounder) and “Crash” was the striker of the hour as he put the cranks (fans) into a frenzy with another hit to bring in two more aces. “Slippery” tallied again after a two bag hit and another by Christian “Crusher” Simpson (a ringer from New London) brought him in,and the 150s rang the tally bell twice more on hits from Chris “Cruiser” Galetka, Mark “Mauler” Ralph and newly acquired “Mighty” Mitchell Kiekhafer.
The home team was down 13-10 in the bottom of the ninth but their borrowed players came through as Mad Dog reached first on a muff (error) and Hound Dog sent another shot over the afore mentioned beverage tent for a three bagger. Silver Fox brought him in on a hit and after “Ringo” knocked the ball to the roof of the dance hall, it was 13-13. Because it is a “Gentleman’s” game both teams had to decide whether to end in a tie or keep playing and in the spirit of true sportsmanship, they chose to keep playing.
After “Waterboy”, playing the behind spot (catcher) snared a pop up for the first out, the Blue Caps had a striker reach first. Mid fielder “Mighty” Kiekhafer fielded a one hopper (remember no gloves are used in this game) for the second out (outs are counted if caught on one bounce), and he threw all the way to “Crash” at first for a double play attempt. Since the two umpires, Joe “Teach” Pieters and Ben “Barrister” Rogos do not actually call outs, (the players make the calls), Crash rightly so called the runner safe. The Blue Caps then starting sending the ball over to the Holden Fairstand several times for a 17-13 lead.
Although there was no Mighty Casey in this story, the 150s were out of gas and mustered only a backspin single to the hurler by “Crash” and the game ended on a sky ball to the mid fielder.
The Blue Caps along with Pieters and Rogos were commentators throughout the game, explaining rules and terms used in the 1880s game and entertaining the cranks. Both umpires were also allowed to fine any player, manager or cranks two bits if they didn’t follow the rules or complained about anything. Pieters seemed to find great joy in fining me, one of the managers, several times for no reason at all! (There went all my thrift sale quarters).
The game turned out to be very informative and very entertaining for the strikers and cranks but the club nine (team), after some strong persuasion from the Blue Caps, decided they would not be putting a competitive team together for future games.