Wednesday, July 20, 2011

BINGHAM PLAYBALL by CREEDON

PLAY BALL!
By John J. Creedon
            As far back as I can remember, I have been a baseball fan, and Bingham has been a baseball town, even in the days when it lacked a decent ball ground.
            What a contrast there is in the ball ground of the fields we used when I was a boy.  There was hardly any place in town with enough open space to provide a suitable playing field, but we managed somehow.  The Frogtown and Depot gangs played ball near the old beer house and D&RGW depot.  The Main Street gang used used the Starless Mine dump and the Carr Fork gang played in the old Shawmut Mill ground.  The Highland Boy crew used the Frisco Mine dump.
            These old mine dumps were as hard as cement and for bases we used any old iron plates that were handy;.  The center plate on a mine car was usually used for home plate.  I wonder now how we played without more injuries than we had with such equipment.
            We could hardly wait for spring to come to remove the snow and ice from the ball grounds and when we started to play we played from sunrise to sunset.  We played rounders, one-o-cat, choose-up-sides and sometimes we played the other teams in town.
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            It was a long walk from Carr Fork to the Frisco to play ball, but we didn’t seem to mind and we always had a hard game with the Highland Boy team.  There was only room for two outfielders on this field with the right fielder up on the side of the hill in the oak brush.  We used to lose the ball frequently and that stopped the game until it was found.  We had no spare ball and usually only one bat.  A roll of friction tape was a must, for when the cover came off, the tape went on.  It was quite an art to wrap a ball with tape and keep it reasonably round.  Covers did not last long on the rough ground and rocks and the frequent soakings when the ball went in the creek.
            Our field in Carr Fork was not as hard as the others, but we had the creek with us and we spent much of our time chasing down the side of the creek and grabbing the ball as it went by.  At the yell of “Cricker” everyone lit out for their appointed spot to retrieve the ball.  It was the ambition of all the hitters to land a ball in Brisk’s window at 73 Carr Fork, a long distance for a small slugger.  I don’t recall of any of us making that distance, but occasionally  we did break a window and then we had to take up a collection to pay the damage.
            We had an air conditioned room at the ball park in Carr Fork.  When we got too hot we went into the old Shawmut mine tunnel to cool off.  There was always a cold breeze blowing out of the mouth of the tunnel and when we were lucky enough to have a bottle of pop, we had it on ice in the tunnel.
            It was just a short walk over the hill separating Carr Fork from Main Street and to the Starless.  We played the Main Street team about once a week and a rivalry between the two teams often reached fever pitch.  It was not unusual for a few punches to be exchanged, but for the most part we stuck to baseball.
            The Starless field was good sized as we used the county road for part of the outfield.  We were not disturbed too often as the day of the automobile was just beginning.
            We tried to imitate our heroes of that day, Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker as the hitters and later the great Babe Ruth.  Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson and Grover Cleveland Alexander were the pitchers we most admired.
            Then there was the Salt Lake Cbee team with left Leverenz, Earl Sheely, Bill Rumler, Harly Maggert and Eddie Mulligan.  Once in a while we would be able to see these players in action at the old Bonneville Park at 9th South in Salt Lake City.  We saw many of the old time big league favorites play there as the Coast League teams were largely made up these veterans, like Sam Crawford, Duffy Lewis, Cactus Cravath and Truck Hannah.
            One year the Carr Fork Giants decided to get suits and we went to the City Hall, where Francis Quinn, the city clerk, made us a paper to solicit with and we went to all the stores to collect money.  We got enough to get the suits and what a proud team that was.
            As I look back to those childhood days, I recall many of the players that are still around these parts.  George Dahlstrom, Joe Brisk, Fat Hurley, Fat Forsnes, Herc Johnson and Einner Sutherland.  Jim and Charley Zanardi of the old Highland Boy team and Poots Alias, master of the roundhouse curve, and pride of the Main Street team.
            I shall write later of the great players and teams that represented the Town of Bingham and the Gemmell Club in a later day, but these were the players and the teams and the ball grounds I played with and grew up with where I first acquired my love for the game.

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