Baseball on the Fourth

One of the things I’ve noticed about July Fourth celebrations nowadays is the lack of sports activities connected with the day of celebration.

Looking back in the dusty files of the Daily Mining Gazette, I often find news about significant sports events taking place on the Fourth.

One of the first July 4th events I can recall actually seeing was back in the mid-1950s.

Sure, the annual parade commanded a lot of attention. And the fireworks display at dark was always big hit.

But the main news (it made the front page of the DMG) the next day was a baseball game between the home South Range Rangers and the Iron River team.

Both teams played in the highly competitive Northern Wisconsin-Michigan League and the rivalry between them was a keen one.

In that particular game, played before a large crowd at the old Range ball diamond, was a good one.

The home team pulled out a one-run victory, thanks to the heroics from such local stars at the Bukovich brothers, Tony Pleshe and Ikka Hahka.

The old park in South Range was a splendid place to watch a game with its wooden grandstands and wooden outfield fences.

Just seeing that one game was enough to give me the incentive to play there some day.

I finally got my chance in the last year the ballpark was standing. It was later torn down and converted into a trailer park.

Over the years, a few local teams have scheduled games on July 4th.

A couple of Twilight League teams used to play a holiday game every year, and it was usually well-attended by fans.

When slow-pitch was at the zenith of its popularity back in the 1970s and 1980s.,there was usually a July 4th tourney going on somewhere.

But back in those days, there was a tournament virtually every weekend of the summer time. But those days are long gone.

The Stanton baseball team will stage the annual Leo Durocher Memorial Tourney this coming weekend. That will come as close to a holiday event as you’ll likely see.

Just as food for thought, it would be nice to see some team come up with an annual event on the biggest holiday of them all.