Summit Sluggers rally to win Summit Historical Society vintage baseball game
2nd annual event returns to Frisco Peninsula after 2020 cancellation
Brian Turner of Denver hiked the trails of the Frisco Peninsula Recreation Area on Sunday morning when he stumbled into a Rocky Mountain field of dreams.
En route from one disc golf hole to the next, Turner bumped into Cooper “Soda Boots” Mikel. The bewildering sight of Mikel’s 19th century knickers at a baseball diamond — with towering Peak 1 behind providing an idyllic backdrop — elicited immediate curiosity from Turner.
“What’s up?” Turner asked.
“Playing baseball,” Soda Boots said.
Soda Boots, the umpire, or arbitrator, for Sunday’s Summit Historical Society Vintage Base Ball Game, further explained the odd occasion. Turner soon asked to join the home Summit Sluggers club, a collection of locals complete with 10 returning vintage veterans from a win in the inaugural 2019 Summit vintage game.
The Sluggers were not only chock-full of ballists — 1864 vintage baseball parlance for players — there was a waitlist to join. But Turner could join the visitors, the Star Base Ball Club of the Colorado Territory.
“They were like, ‘If you really want to play, we start at 1 ( p.m.),’” Turner said. “And I was like, ‘I’ll be here at 12:30.’”
After grabbing grub at Whole Foods, Turner returned to play a shoeless center field as the Star Base Ball Club took a commanding 8-0 lead in its redemption bid versus the Sluggers.
It wasn’t just the stirrups that were vintage for the Colorado Territory club on Sunday. Like all Colorado Vintage Base Ball Association matches, 1864 rules are used as part of the Civil War-reenactment-like sporting showcase for all of Sunday’s fans, or cranks. Those rules included underhanded pitching, or hurling, no fielding mitts and the one vintage rule that the families surrounding the Frisco Peninsula field could clearly see altered the match the most: the bound.
The 1864 bound rule effectively meant any fielder, or scout, could put a batter, or striker, out by catching a hit ball not only on a fly but also off one bounce. As the Colorado Territory tacked on early runs, or tallies, the disc golfer-turned-outfielder Turner used his fleet feet to put out five Sluggers.
Through 4 1/2 innings, the 8-ace deficit was so deep for the home side that Soda Boots accepted a hefty 25-cent bribe from a Slugger-supporting crank to tack an unearned tally onto the scoreboard for the Sluggers.
“I wish it were in the form of beer, is all,” Soda Boots said. “But money is also good.”
Trailing 8-1, the Sluggers, it seemed, received divine intervention from the baseball gods that they so desperately needed. It came when a Slugger foul ball was sent into the crowd down the left field line. As the ball bounded off the peninsula grass, all cranks in attendance yelled, “catch it!” That’s because in 1864 rules, if a crank catches a ball off a fly or bound, they can throw it to the scouting club to help the defense record an out, or hand dead.
That’s precisely what David Schanker, of Blue River, did, as he was interested in catching a glimpse of what the vintage X-like seams on the 1864 baseball looked like. Surrounded by his children and family visiting from Florida, Schanker rose from his lawn chair to make the play while sporting the colors of his favorite football club, the Chicago Bears. Summit Slugger veteran Louis “Tuna” Skowyra — a die-hard Minnesota Vikings crank — caught the ball in left field to the applause of the cranks.
It was NFC North rivals uniting for vintage baseball glory.
“It’s even better he had to have it from a Bears fan,” Schanker said with a laugh.
Schanker’s heroics triggered good fortune for the Sluggers as they rallied for five tallies in the bottom of the fifth. They tacked on three more in the sixth and two more in the seventh to complete the 11-8 comeback.
The offensive explosion came after veteran coach and ballist Shervin “Shevy” Rashidi and the rest of the Sluggers focused on hitting hurls hard and low. Rashidi, who himself drove in three tallies, said Tim “King Air” Cron hit well and, more importantly, scouted with sure, bare hands at first base. Rashidi said Scott “The Cannon” Sussman added two crucial tallies while Andrew “Iggy” Lukasiewicz hurled well to take the Sluggers home.
Rashidi said he was happy to see the event return after 2020’s cancellation in response to COVID-19. Historical Society Executive Director Sally Queen said she was ecstatic with the community turnout and support for the society’s largest annual fundraiser.
Even after missing 2020, the event grew from nine local sponsors to 28. All who attended and contributed manifested a truly community-centric event celebrating an oft-forgotten chapter in Summit sporting history.
“We want to have an annual event for the community,” Queen said. “We hear this a lot: It’s not about the visitor; it’s the community. And that’s who was here: families.”
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