On the Bright Side

It's no question: as the storied birthplace of the sport, baseball is big here. From summer baseball camps to the legions of fans that visit yearly, the history of the game is intertwined with the region.

The town of Hamden, while humble in size and population, sits on a historical gem that it will be celebrating Saturday at 4 p.m. with a baseball game, guest speakers, former players, a barbecue and memorabilia from bygone eras.

The first known printed mention of baseball was a Delaware Gazette article published in 1825, which read: "The undersigned‚ all residents of the new town of Hamden‚ with the exception of Asa Howland‚ who has recently removed to Delhi‚ challenge an equal number of persons of any town in the County of Delaware‚ to meet them at any time at the house of Edward B. Chace‚ in said town‚ to play the game of Bass-Ball‚ for the sum of one dollar each per game."

“Bass-Ball” was a reporter's error, town historian Loretta Foster said.

What is unique about this, Foster said, is the notice included the nine men's names, making it easier to trace their biographies. According to Foster, the men were the sons and grandsons of Revolutionary War soldiers who had settled in Hamden as veterans.

Saturday's celebration was conceived by the Hamden Flag Committee, headed by 93-year-old Alice Blackman. The eight-person committee's stated goal was to purchase flags and banners to commemorate the town for its heritage. The committee spent the spring selling baseball bats and T-shirts to raise money and Blackman said the event is partly in celebration of the committee meeting its goals.

“This will help put Hamden on the map,” Blackman said, remembering when the town had active and competitive teams — a men's team called “the polecats” and a women's team named “the heifers.”

She said she was a farmer back then and was never able to make it to the games.

“Now I can," she said, "and it will be fun.”

The celebration begins at 4 p.m. at the Hamden Pavilion. There will be a pick-up game with three-innings and music along with traditional baseball snacks such as hot dogs, cracker jacks and popcorn. The food will be prepared by Delhi Fire Department.

Prior to the celebration, there will be the annual Crawford baseball game at 1 p.m., a revived tradition that dates back to the 1940s.

Hamden Supervisor Wayne Marshfield said he will throw the first pitch and give a short speech at the event.

“It's going to be a fun day,” he said. “The committee is trying to bring baseball back to the forefront and rejuvenate it.”

Whitney Bashaw, staff writer, can be reached at (607) 441-7218 or wbashaw@thedailystar.com . Follow her on Twitter @DS_WhitneyB .

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