100-plus years of baseball in Eagle | VailDaily.com

100-plus years of baseball in Eagle

Compiled by David L'Heureux
Special to the DailyThe baseball player in this studio photo is identified as Omar Howland. There is no date on the photo.

Baseball in Eagle goes back to the town’s very beginnings. The following are excerpts from the archives of the Eagle Valley Enterprise:.”June 20, 1919 – Edwards plays EagleEagle hosted a game with Eagle River Valley Champion Edwards on June 15, 1919. Edwards just beat out Eagle on the ‘fine play’ of Charles and Carl Eaton. The Eagle team was led by the battery mates of Gordon, who pitched, and Clark, the catcher. Also starring in the game for Eagle was a second-baseman named Stapp.”The game was played at Eagle and was a very fair exhibition of the national sport. The game accorded good attendance and all those present congratulated themselves on being there. The next game between the two will, no doubt, fill the park.”May 24, 1935 – Eagle wins”The baseball team defeated Shell Oil at Grand Junction yesterday by a final score of 7-2. In the seventh inning the score was 2-1, with Eagle leading. (The Shell Oil) pitcher passed three men, filling the bases, and a three-bagger cleared the bags.”May 31, 1935 – League formed

“A four-team baseball league in the Grand Valley has recently been formed, including Grand Junction, Silt, Glenwood Springs and Eagle.The schedule calls for 16 games with each team playing the other four times.The first games on the schedule will be played next Sunday, when Eagle meets Glenwood at the latter’s field.”Gypsum beats Glenwood”The Gypsum baseball team met a team from the CCC Camp of Glenwood Springs and defeated them in a thrilling, close game at the high school grounds in Gypsum. The final score was 3-2.If our boys would only play like that all the time, what a following they would have.”August 2, 1935 – Eagle loses heartbreakerThe Eagle Eagles were on the road for the fifth and deciding game of their series with rival Shell Oil of Grand Junction. The team was up 5-1 early on, but Shell Oil rallied to win by a final of 8-7. The action on the day was intense in front of a large crowd in Grand Junction.”Shell came to bat in the last of the ninth with the score 7-6 against them. One-half the crowd was yelling ‘stop ’em Eagle,’ and the other half was urging Shell to ‘knock lefty out of the box.'”

Pitcher Bock developed a wild streak allowing three runners to score during the Grand Junction rally. Catcher Joe LeDonne went 2 for 5 with a run scored; the Eagles committed eight errors in the loss.June 28, 1946 – Play resumes after war”The Eagle team lost when they played at Oak Creek. The team was inexperienced, but manager Bill Aerts hopes the boys will fare better when they play Oak Park again in Eagle in two Sundays.”Baseball is gaining popularity again in this section of Colorado after a period of inactivity (due to World War II).” An ad in the following week’s Enterprise urged locals to dig out their old baseball uniforms for the newly-forming team.”It is rather difficult to obtain new ones right now, and your cooperation in turning over those old suits for the new team would be greatly appreciated.”June 23, 1955 – Chamber beats Aspen”The Eagle Chamber of Commerce baseball team won a tight game from Aspen by the final score of 5-4. The game went 12 innings.”That was following a great big goose egg that (Eagle’s) American Legion team laid in a 17-0 loss to Glenwood last week.

“The final game of the Eagle Valley League’s schedule will be played in Minturn Saturday. The Chamber of Commerce will face Red Cliff in what will be a heartbreaker for one of the teams. Neither side has lost all year.”‘Lost in the hay’The following is from the late Harold Koonce’s unpublished memoirs, which are in the archives of the Eagle County Historical Society. Koonce recalled that in the 1920s and 1930s, the town of Eagle had an era of first-rate baseball teams, often the best on the Western slope;”We had in those days a real baseball grandstand and regulation playing field. The ball park occupied a whole city block, bounded on the south by our early-day horse race track and Mayer’s big hay field. Any ball hit over the track into the hayfield was a ground-rule homer – the ball was usually lost in the hay.”Our covered grandstand was functionally designed for a baseball park, with open bleachers on the side, dugouts, a ticket booth, and a pop stand.”The men who managed us through these days were Billy Meehan, an early-day lawyer; his right-hand man, Leo Fessenden; and Charlie Hemberger, a college-educated mining engineer, who liked baseball better than prospecting in the hills.”We had good hitters and fine fielders: the Lewis brothers, John and Harry; Gordon Whittaker and his old friend Salty Salzgaver (who had major league connections); Freddy West, Carl Lloyd, Sharkey Beasley, Allen Clark, Joe LeDonne and Bert Hitt. We even recruited our pitchers. I recall a couple from Colorado University’s great string of teams under Harry Carlson. Bill Subry and Dick Bock proved that college kids could play with the best of the lot.”Vail, Colorado

Support Local Journalism