Lincoln can’t save the day

       Not even a home run by Abraham Lincoln could save the day for the Camp Creek Sluggers Sept. 5 in their annual Labor Day vintage baseball game against the Colorado Territorial All-Stars at the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site.

John "Shotz" Winters of the Sluggers scoots back to third as Drew "Wilkes Booth" Frady of the All-Stars bobbles the throw.
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Abe Lincoln watches his hit with game umpire Ian "Traveler" Tinney.
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       The final score was 24-7 – quite a turnabout considering that the clean-living home nine had battled to a 7-7 tie after three innings. But then the All-Stars – mostly out-of-towners with dubious reputations – went on a four-inning binge in which they smashed “corkers” all over the hay/ballfield, including a majestic clout by Justin “Case” Breeze that wound up in the second floor gutter of the Rock Ledge House in right field.
       Breeze would actually have been out, teammate Roger “Digger” Hadix explained later, because under a mid-1800s rule the ball had never touched the ground; however, in their enthusiasm at retrieving the ball the Camp Creek players allowed it to be thrown onto the field. Once it bounced twice, the ball became “live” again and Breeze, who had long since rounded the bases, got to celebrate.

Andrew "Black Noose" Harmon catches a throw-in from the crowd.
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       More than 200 “cranks” (1800s slang for fans) lined the field, some toting picnic baskets, many sitting in anachronistic sling chairs and most rooting for the hometown contingent.
       Unfortunately, while the All-Stars were slugging, the Sluggers seemed to be seeing stars. They were “dead” (vintage baseball slang for making outs) so steadily in the last four innings the field could have been declared a memorial site.
       The game was called after seven innings, after the umpire apparently felt sorry for the host squad.
       The only bright spot in the latter stages was the appearance of President Lincoln, in top hat and tails. The cranks assumed right away he was on the Slugger side (being a symbol of Honesty and Right-Thinking), and they became positive after he “helped” the umpire by arguing for the Camp Creek gang on two close calls and then batted for them. Lincoln's liner to right-center ripped past the All-Star outfielders and into a crowd of fans who, in a clear sign he could win re-election, showed no hurry to return the ball to the All-Star players. The tall, lanky president (known to some as Mike Houston) loped home to the biggest cheers of the day. After some dispute, the umpire decided not to count the run, because of the utterly absurd reason that Lincoln was not in fact a member of the team.

Camp Creek Slugger player Andy "Anvil" Morris (left) reaches first as an errant Colorado Territorial All-Stars throw skips into right field.
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       But the loss of the run had little effect on the outcome.
       Not even the appearance of Suffragettes distracted the All-Stars from their pounding. The ladies, who really should have been home cooking dinner (and feeling lucky to do so) for their men folk, had the nerve to suggest prohibiting alcohol and getting the right to vote.
       It was a rare, one-sided defeat for the Camp Creek players, who, representing Rock Ledge, had won the Labor Day contest four of the previous six years. Ranch (and team) manager Andy “Anvil” Morris was glib with excuses. Here's the list he related: “bad hops, sun in our eyes, trenchfoot, pink eye and early stages of consumption.”

Andrew "Black Noose" Harmon (with ball) and Bret "Tracker" Tennis (on lawn) of the Sluggers exult at an apparent out on All-Star Justin "Case" Breeze's bash into the Rock Ledge House's second-floor gutter (also part of right field). However, the throw in rolled onto the field, negating the vintage baseball rule that allows an out if the ball doesn't bounce on the ground more than once.
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       Asked if perhaps his boys had spent a little too much time in the local tavern the night before, Morris agreed that excuse might belong in there too. “I'd heard some rumors, and I'll look into it,” he said. He also vowed to immediately start practicing weekly for next year - a pledge that this publication will be checking back on regularly, we can assure you.

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