The founder of the Colorado Springs Retro Baseball Club keeps the art of the game alive | Lifestyle

Perhaps every young child remembers his first baseball game.

Roger Haddix probably remembers it more. It was more than 50 years ago, but he remembers every detail of the drive from Colorado Springs to St. Louis for a pro game. There was a feeling in the air for the 9-year-old, as if the path was leading to something magical.

And he remembers the match. Some of the specific plays. The names of the players he got autographs from. There was another feeling: as if he could play on the big field if he wanted to. As if this game was for a scrawny kid like him who was often picked last or not at all for whatever the other guys were playing.

“As a smaller guy, it’s a game that anybody can play,” Haddix said. “In basketball, it helps to be tall. With football, it helps to be big. As much as I love hockey, it was never an option.”

Haddix didn’t grow up as a person in this field. He only grew to 5-foot-2. He grew to be able to take on the role that so many others do when it comes to professional sports. Observer, fan, critic.

Another feeling from that day turned out to be true. Baseball will always be a part of his life.

“I was just hooked,” he said.

Around the same time as this game, Haddix got hooked on something else. Learning about the past. That’s thanks to fourth-grade teacher Rhoda Davis Wilcox, who wrote books like The Bells of Manitou, about William Abraham Bell, founder of Manitou Springs, and The Man on the Iron Horse, about the life of Gen. William Jackson Palmer. Another teacher brought real cannonballs into the classroom.

“It was a huge influence on me,” Haddix said. “They made the story really fun for me.”

He learned the importance of finding many passions and making them fun, from theater productions to his double majors in college, philosophy and communications, allowing him to “wonder out loud,” he says.

Since then, Haddix has pursued “a million jobs,” from working in a parish to working at a leprechaun shop in Manitou Springs. Then began a 15-year banking career.

Baseball continued to capture his attention.

The sport has done that for many since its beginnings in the 1840s, as chronicled in “Baseball,” Ken Burns’ popular documentary series that first aired on PBS in 1994.

The episodes cover “the search for racial justice, the clash between labor and management, the transformation of popular culture and the unfolding of the national pastime,” according to the online description.

This is not just a game, as is the subject of similar documentaries, films and books. It is a game of story, drama and strategy and endless wins and losses. It’s the perfect intersection of passions for Haddix.

Roger Haddix wears a 1901 Colorado Springs Millionaires uniform as he poses on the baseball field at Monument Valley Park last week in Colorado Springs, Tuesday, July 5, 2022. Haddix is ​​the author of “Baseball in Colorado Springs” and a member of the Colorado Springs Vintage Base Ball Association. (The Gazette, Christian Murdoch)

“They say that for a reason,” he said. “It’s all for the love of the game.”

For Haddix, it’s a love that spans decades and phases of life. It stretched into a special moment: Haddix was playing in a hobby softball league and found out about some hidden world of retro baseball, a league of guys who revere the past-life pastime. It was the Vintage Base Ball Association, or VBBA, with a mission to “preserve, perpetuate and promote the game of baseball as it was played during its formative years in the nineteenth century and other historical eras. Correct interpretation of the rules is an important aspect of our game,” according to its website. “VBBA member clubs have access not only to vintage rules with interpretation, but also to historians of the game and others.”

Haddix saw purity in the association, known for its meticulous dressing, speaking and adherence to the rules of another time.

“It’s for the love of the game,” he said. “They weren’t making millions of dollars in payroll. It wasn’t much appreciated. He went out to play ball because he loved the game.

They didn’t have a club in his hometown, so in 2000 he started the Colorado Springs Vintage Base Ball Association. The club has remained strong ever since, with many eye-catching summer fixtures.

Vintage Baseball (Replica)

Players cheer during a vintage baseball game at the historic Rock Ledge Ranch in Colorado Springs.

In 2013, he published a book, Baseball in Colorado Springs, which chronicled milestones such as the Colorado Springs Millionaires, the Sky Sox playing at Spurgeon Field, which baseball Hall of Famer graduated from Wasson High School, and how the legendary Hawaii Islanders landed in our mountain community. The hits keep coming, and so do the countless baseball stories that have helped shape the Pikes Peak region.”

Hits tend to find Haddix, who suffered broken fingers from playing games, set in a gloveless period.

But he continues to play. And passing the ball to teammates like John Sumner, the new captain of the Colorado Springs Retro Club.

“Roger makes history fun,” Sumner said. “He just adds spirit to it.”

Haddix’s love of the game is soulful. When he plays, he doesn’t think about the now. Sometimes he thinks about that 9-year-old who believed in magic. He will always want to remind you why we play.

“It’s a chance to slow down and take a minute to think about the past,” he said. “If we know what happened in the past, we can estimate what happens in the future.”

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