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Boys of Summit gather for old-timers game

July 02, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

CASCADE - Most of the players assembled on the field Sunday were not original members of The Summiteers, yet they gathered in the spirit that kept the semi-pro baseball team active for nearly two decades in postwar America.

With borrowed gloves and a couple of bats between them, three generations of guys divided into two teams with what seemed to be dual purposes - to laugh and to play ball.

The five original members of The Summiteers in attendance were given an opportunity to speak before the game, sharing their memories with some mountain residents who had never before seen them play and others who remembered them well.

"A lot of years. A lot of fields. I hardly missed a game," one man said just before the first notes of "The Star-Spangled Banner" were heard.

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Organizers of the second annual Mountain Top Heritage Days, a three-day festival this weekend, wanted to pay tribute to the team that captured pennants in 1954, 1955 and 1956. They donned blue-and-white striped shirts with "Summit" on the front and threw four plates onto the grass on Fort Ritchie's parade grounds.

It was there that Ray Harbaugh, Charlie Poole and Ted Blubaugh relived an experience once such a key part of their daily lives.

"I haven't swung a bat for 50-couple years," said Poole, who played on the team from 1944 to 1955.

Before the second inning and his first at-bat, the jovial man shared a secret.

"I'm going to bunt," he said, claiming that he was the best bunter on the team for years.

Poole teasingly swung the bat for the first two pitches that crossed home plate. Then, with a smile on his face, he did just as he promised, bunting the ball a short distance and allowing another man to run for him.

Blubaugh served as the game's pitcher, something he did for 45 games annually from 1953 to 1956.

"I enjoyed every game, every minute," he said.

He and Harbaugh reminisced about building the field, dugouts and backstop at the sportsman's club.

"All of us fellows got together. Some had a pickup truck, and we hauled all the gravel, dirt. We put up the roofing tin for a fence," Blubaugh said.

The Summiteers, who wore white uniforms in the 1950s, traveled to New Windsor, Westminster and Frederick in Maryland for games, according to Blubaugh.

Collections were taken at games to support the activity, Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh was a familiar face at first base between 1944 and 1957.

"I had five years in between there when I played pro ball," he said.

Harbaugh said he played for the St. Louis Browns and Hagerstown Owls before returning to The Summiteers.

"I used to live right outside the gate here," Harbaugh said, pointing to one of the Fort Ritchie entrances.

Members of the military were important parts of the teams in the 1950s, Harbaugh said.

"It was just a community thing, I guess. It was a lot of work, too. It wasn't all play," he said, talking about the fields that had been built.

Harbaugh and Blubaugh took time Sunday to talk about players including Thad Calimer, Lee Calimer, Calvin Calimer, Junior McCleaf, Bobby McCleaf, Johnny Carson, Arben Harbaugh, Dick Harbaugh, Dave Whitney, Paul Holtz, Charlie Biser, Carroll Biser, Bob Davis, Jim Gaver, Herb Brown, Tom Brown and Lee Brown. They also mentioned Coach Poke Moorehead.

"I guess you could say it was all memories. We had a lot of good times," Harbaugh said.

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