Take me out to the ballgame | VailDaily.com

Take me out to the ballgame

David L'Heureux
Special to the Daily/John Hollis The Eagle Valley Merchants, aka the "Swans," put on their game faces for an exhibition against the Colorado Territorial All-Stars last weekend in Eagle.

EAGLE – The Eagle Valley Merchants put on a new face at Flight Days. For a brief moment on Saturday afternoon, they became the Eagle Valley Swans. It’s not the scariest of mascot names. But that was the name emblazoned on their uniforms for an exhibition game against the Colorado Territorial All-Stars. The Swans routed the All-Stars (a “vintage” base ball team from the Front Range) by a final score of 20-5. The game was played by the rules of the day in 1862, and was as much a theatrical event as it was a sporting one.

The All-Stars regularly take their show on the road. It’s a well-rehearsed mix of theater and sport, and it was a hit at Flight Days. The crowd of about 200 was encouraged to get involved, which they did. When they weren’t yelling at the umpire, or cheering on the hometown Swans, they were enjoying an assortment of cold beverages – adult, and otherwise.”That was a lot of fun for us,” said All-Star player Gary Wickett. “We would really like to come back here and organize a tournament, or get these guys to come to one of ours.”

The highlights of the day included Ralph Starr throwing out the first pitch; the umpire gunning down a base runner with his six-shooter for arguing a call; a suffragette march by the women on hand, demanding the right to vote; and a number of circus catches by both teams (in those days the ball could be played on a hop, which makes for some interesting situations in the field).Some of the local players who suited up for the Swans included Chris Spiegel, Tom Klahr, Kraige Keltner, Jesse Merihew, Jose Mesa, Keegan Keltner, Nar Gallegos, Andy Johnson and Micah Bernhardt. It didn’t take these seasoned baseball players long to catch on to the rules. Once they did, it was no contest.”We actually studied the rules pretty closely the night before,” said Spiegel.

The Swans (Merchants) will resume their summer schedule in the upcoming months, but they have reserved the right to break out the “vintage” uniforms. They have been invited to play in the Vintage Base Ball “Best of the West Tournament” in Adams County on August 6 and 7.”We will definitely do it, if we can get the guys together,” said Spiegel. This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.Vail, Colorado

Support Local Journalism