Baseball in area comes back

There was a time when baseball in the Copper Country was a big summertime happening.

As far back as the early 1900s, there was baseball being played up here.

George Gipp, the football immortal, was reportedly a great baseball player. His speed and heavy hitting ability attracted the attention of the Chicago Cubs, who likely would have signed him to a contract.

The famous Copper Sox of the 1920s were reputed to be one of the finest baseball teams ever assembled.

And it continued that way for most of the 20th century as the local Twilight League produced many outstanding players.

Such names as Leo Durocher, Merv Klemett, Rick Miller, Bud Patrick, Tom Borsum and many others stood out.

But the Twilight League began to see fewer numbers as the years rolled by and the quality of play suffered.

That was primarily because there was no “feeder” system in place. The younger kids, who once played in the fields and sandlots, were no longer interested in the game.

That’s not to say there weren’t some youngsters out there still active. Under Arnie Henderson, the Hancock American Legion team put together some good squads in the 1970s and 1980s.

But they sometimes had to reach into other towns to come up with the numbers needed.

At it’s peak in the mid-1960s, the Twilight League had two divisions, one in the north and one in the south. That added up to as many as 12 teams playing.

But the advent of high school baseball has provided an infusion of new blood.

With teams now in Houghton, Hancock, Calumet, Jeffers and L’Anse, local baseball has made a very nice comeback.

All of the above teams are competitive, capable of winning on any night.

The thing I’ve noticed about the current teams is that just about all of them have at least one good pitcher. That wasn’t always the case.

And the fundamentals being displayed are, for the most part, very solid.

And the late Leo Durocher, Merv Klemett and Rick Miller are smiling down from that big ball diamond in the sky.