Journey to the Past

‘Diamonds in the Rough’

Baseball symposium coming to Fort Bayard

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A century ago, the sports world was shaken by scandal, the “fixing” of the World Series by members of the Chicago White Sox, who allegedly conspired with professional gamblers to lose to a much inferior Cincinnati Reds team in the Fall Classic.

Since then, books, movies and countless articles have examined the events leading up to and following the scandal. The effects on all professional sports are still felt today, with efforts to regulate wagering on the events still a major concern.

A much lesser known aspect of the so-called “Black Sox Scandal,” is what happened to the eight players banned from professional baseball as a result of it. It turns out that several of them came right here to the Southwest, and played for teams in the Copper League, which earned that organization a nickname: The Outlaw League. Some of them wore the uniform of the Fort Bayard Veterans.

The Fort Bayard Historic Preservation Society is hosting a three-day celebration of the legacy of the sport of baseball to the Southwest. The story of the banned players and their participation in the Copper League is just one topic that will be explored by a panel of scholars, coaches and players.

The Symposium will “play ball” starting at 5:30 p.m. on Friday evening, Oct. 18, with an opening reception at the New Deal Theater, on the grounds of Fort Bayard National Historic Landmark, six miles east of Silver City. Activities will include a meet-and-greet with participants, and a chance to view photos and artifacts from local collections.

At 9 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 19, panel presentations will begin in the theater. Following a break, the presentations will continue from 12:30 until 2:30 p.m. Then, at 3 p.m. two teams will square off on the diamond at nearby Bataan Park. The game will be played according to 19th century rules and features a visiting squad of players from the Arizona Vintage Baseball League, taking on the Grant County Senior Olympics baseball team, coached by well-known Senior Olympian Mario Quintana. On Saturday evening, the day’s activities will conclude with the screening of the critically acclaimed HBO movie “When it Was a Game,” at the New Deal Theater.

Events resume 9:30-10:30 a.m.  on Sunday, Oct. 20, with a potluck brunch served at the theater. The baseball teams will then meet for an 11 a.m. rematch at Bataan Park. Following the final out, a closing ceremony will be held at the baseball field.

The Symposium is sponsored by the Fort Bayard Historic Preservation Society, the Village of Santa Clara, the New Mexico Humanities Council and the Grant County Lodgers Tax. A full schedule of events can be seen at www.fortbayard.org. For more information, contact Doug Dinwiddie at 575-388-4862, or email beckydcpa@gmail.com.

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