Roxbury 9 to play for Keator Cup over holiday weekend

See the early history of baseball come to life all Labor Day weekend in Roxbury’s magnificent Kirkside Park, as the Roxbury Nine vintage team hosts the Harry M. Keator Vintage Base Ball Tournament. A full weekend of action and emotion is guaranteed as eight of the northeast’s most competitive vintage ball clubs converge on Roxbury in the western Catskills. The action begins on Friday evening, August 29, and continues full throttle all Saturday and Sunday, August 30 and 31, with the championship game on Sunday at 1 p.m. — a match the Roxbury Nine has never lost.
The Keator Cup will also be “competing” with “all the agreeable pursuits of 1898,” as the hamlet of Roxbury turns out in spats and bustles for the ninth “Turn of the Century Days” with historic hamlet and house tours, authentic country fare, crafts workshops, horse carriage rides, Vaudevillian entertainers, children’s 19th-century pastimes, mountain minstrels, period fashion show and a first-ever community-wide 1898 group portrait in Kirkside Park on Saturday. You and your family can have heirloom silhouette portraits created on either day or sit for a “vintage” family photograph on Sunday.
For sports fans of every age, the entire weekend is a once-a-year opportunity to see our nation’s pastime played with strict authenticity, with the customs of the 1860s through 1898. The “underhand” pitch bracket includes four teams that specialize in the 1860s and 1870s game, including the Brooklyn Atlantics, the Flemington Neshanock, the New York Gothams and the Waterbury Connors.
In the faster “overhand” pitch bracket, playing the game of the 1880s and 90s, will be the hometown boys, Roxbury Nine, the Mountain Athletic Club of neighboring Fleischmanns, the Boston Beaneaters and the Elizabeth Athletics. Whatever the rulebook year, this is base ball played by its most ardent amateurs, for the history and the love of the game.
Feelings will be running high on Friday evening, August 29, as the Nine pay tribute to their late manager, John McAlonen, during the opening game with Fleischmanns Mountain Athletic Club. On Sunday, Aug. 31, the team will retire six of its founding players in its first Roxbury Nine Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Competitive and close-knit, the Roxbury Nine roster includes four sets of brothers, many nephews, uncles, Roxbury school alumni and even a Harry Keator descendant. The club heads into this year’s Keator Cup with more than a dozen wins this season.
“Our theme this year has been ‘the best of the past is coming home again,’” said Roxbury Team manager Peg Ellsworth, adding, “We’ve been playing locally for most of the season, traveling less, putting most of our energies here at home for local fans. The Keator Cup will be the culmination of a fantastic summer of play and a perfect moment to thank some of our staunchest veteran players with the first-ever Roxbury Nine Hall of Fame induction.”
On both Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 30 and 31, visitors can come to Roxbury in true 19th-century style via the Delaware and Ulster
Railroad. “Railride into Yesteryear” will brings visitors to Roxbury for several hours of “no mileage fun,” where everything you need is within easy walking distance. You can leave your gas guzzler at the Arkville train depot on Route 28 and once in Roxbury, let the “two horsepower” carriage ferry you to a gentler state of mind — and the ballpark.
All Labor Day weekend in Roxbury, base ball will celebrate its “good old days,” where the equipment is sparse, the action unrelenting and the players unpaid but for the reward of a good game and the crowd’s huzzahs.
Visit www.roxburyny.com for schedules and updates or call 607 326-3722 for more information.