This author admits upfront that he is both a local history nut and a diehard New York Yankees fan. The intertwined paths of baseball and American history resonate with me. Older readers of this piece will likely recall watching Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and the transformational impact of Jackie Robinson. This author’s baseball roots trace to Willie Mays, Duke Snyder and Mickey Mantle, ah, The Mick, my favorite. I grew up assuming that the Yankees would always play in the World Series each year.
2021 Canal Days Celebration included the return of vintage base ball to Little Falls in the form of a three-team, three-game, round-robin tournament. The newly formed Little Falls Alerts competed against the Catskill area Bovina Dairymen and the Mountain Athletic Club, all retrieved names from the earliest days of American baseball. 1860’s, 1880’s and 1890’s era base ball game rules were in place at different times during the three games.
Early era Little Falls base ball teams included the Rough and Readys and the Pastimes in the 1860’s, the Excelsiors in the 1870’s and the Rocktons and the Alerts in the 1880’s – 90’s. The Alerts took the field in the north end of Ward Square in the 1880’s-90’s for most of their games. Games were heavily attended.
I watched most of the first game between the Alerts and the Bovina Dairymen and the entire third game between the local nine and the Mountain Athletic Club. I was not present for the second game between the two Catskill region teams.
Authenticity, gentlemanly conduct, high-spirited competitiveness and inter-team camaraderie graced the daylong tournament. The local nine may have lost both of their games to the longer-established downstate teams, but their athleticism and baseball acumen were in evidence throughout; an important foothold was re-established and another Little Falls tradition has been reborn. Vintage base ball is back in Little Falls after a long hiatus. The new Alerts will now carry forward our vintage base ball banner. Three cheers for the Alerts!
Vintage base ball both resembles and differs from our modern national pastime. The players do not wear ball gloves, hit balls caught on the first bounce are still outs; the difference in rules is too complex to be fully captured in this piece. Vintage base ball equipment, including bats, balls and catcher’s gear is also quite different.
The Little Falls Historical Society has provided financial sponsorship for the Alerts, including the purchase of four high-quality bats hand-turned to perfection by local craftsman Ian Giudilli who labeled each bat “made in Little Falls” and “Rough and Ready.”
In conclusion, Little Falls vintage base ball is back and being roundly embraced by a talented group of local athletes eager to call themselves Alerts. The Little Falls Historical Society and the Little Falls Family and Youth Center have partnered to back the Alerts and the City is eager to provide the ballfields for games. Hopefully, Canal Days Celebrations will feature an annual vintage base ball tournament. Long live the Little Falls Alerts!