Morning Read: The Golden Age of North Country Baseball

Bob Goetz has a great review up this morning in the Plattsburgh Press-Republican of a new history of North Country town baseball, written by former pro-ball player Bob Garrow.  It’s called “The Only Game In Town.”

The author was pleasantly surprised by the information available from the very early days, before the 20th century.

“I didn’t think I would get much, but I was surprised to find as many accounts of games from the 1860s,” he reflected.

“It was very interesting, especially the language of the day, how things were written compared to today. For example, the pitcher’s mound was referred to as the box; and there was a lot of attention paid to the spectators and what happened in the stands. People used to follow town teams all over the place.”

I was in Moriah this fall for a big rivalry football game between the Vikings and the Saranac Lake Red Storm.  I can only imagine what these town-to-town baseball clashes must have been like.

Then came television and other cultural changes which eroded the game in the 1960s.

“There was not a lot of money in baseball and certainly not enough to compete with so many forms of entertainment that came about in the fifties,” Garrow pointed out.

“Gone were the days when townsfolk beamed with pride for their teams, looking anxiously toward the weekend,” Garrow wrote.

Read the full review here.

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2 Comments on “Morning Read: The Golden Age of North Country Baseball”

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  1. john says:

    HAve you listened to the song, “Iron And Diamonds”, by the Gibson Brothers? It’s about the baseball teams in the old mining camps around Lyon Mountain. It tells the story of of baseball culture in the early 1900’s in the mining towns where the men worked 6 days a week underground, the seventh day was for the Lord, except in the afternoon when the weekly baseball games took place and how the entire community turned out to watch, as there was little else to do. I’m sure the song in in your station archives as it’s been played on String Fever a number of times.

  2. michael coffey says:

    To “John”: thanks for item about Gibson Bros. Not too late for my Xmas stocking–a Gibson Bros album. I’ll put it there myself. I’ve been meaning to catch up with this band which, as i believe, is a great bluegrass duo from…. Ellenburg? As for Bob Garrow–i am most eager to read his book, if only out of respect for the man who was (along with Bob Parker) the best basketball referee in North Country when i played HS ball in the 1970s. We (Saranac) weren’t too good at the time, so Bob (and other other Bob) never reffed our games–but if there was a big game–St. John’s v Peru, say, you would see those two with the whistles. I think they even did some college ball, too. I think when future NBA star Randy Smith and buffalo State came to play the Cardinals, they may have called it.

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