Founder of vintage Colorado Springs baseball club keeps art of game alive | Way of life

Perhaps every young child remembers their first baseball game.

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

He remembers the game too. Some of the specific shows. Names of players from whom he received autographs. He had a different feeling: like maybe he could play there on the big field if he wanted to. Like this game was for a skinny kid like him, one who was often picked last or not at all for whatever the other boys were playing.

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

Hadix did not grow up to be a boy in that field. He only grew 5-foot-2. He grew up to be okay with taking on the role that many others do when it comes to professional sports. Observer, fan, critic.

Another feeling from that day rang true. Baseball would always be a part of his life.

“I was just hooked,” he said.

Around the same time as that game, Hadix became fixated on something else. Learning about the past. That’s thanks to fourth-grade teacher Rhoda Davis Wilcox, who wrote books such as “Manitou Bells,” about William Abraham Bell, a founding father of Manitou Springs, and “The Man on the Iron Horse,” about General William’s life. Jackson Palmer. Another teacher brought real cannonballs to class.

“That was a big influence on me,” Hadix said. “They made the story really fun for me.”

He learned the importance of finding multiple passions and having fun with them, from theater productions to his double major in college, philosophy and communications, which allows him to “wonder out loud,” he says.

Since then, Hadix has pursued “a million jobs,” from working at a parish to working at a leprechaun shop in Manitou Springs. He then landed a 15-year bank job.

Baseball continued to capture his attention.

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

According to its online description, the episodes include “the quest for racial justice, the clash of labor and management, the transformation of popular culture and the unfolding of the national pastime.”

This is not just a game, as is the subject of such documentaries, films and books. It’s a game of story, drama and strategy and endless winning and losing. It’s the perfect intersection of passions for Hadix.

Roger Hadix wears a 1901 Colorado Springs Millionaires uniform as he poses on the baseball field at Monument Valley Park last week in Colorado Springs on Tuesday, July 5, 2022. Hadix is ​​the author of Baseball in Colorado Springs and a member of the Colorado Springs Vintage Baseball Association. (Newspaper, Christian Murdock)

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

For Hadix, it’s a love that spans decades and stages of life. It reached a special moment: Hadix was playing in a hobby softball league and learned about a kind of hidden world of vintage baseball, a league of guys who honored the pastime in his past life. It was the Vintage Base Ball Association, or VBBA, with a mission to “preserve, perpetuate and promote the game of base ball as it was played during its formative years in the nineteenth century and other historical periods. Correct interpretation of the rules is an important aspect of our game,” its website states. “VBBA member clubs have access not only to vintage rules with interpretation, but also to game historians and more.”

Hadix saw a purity in society, known for dressing and talking meticulously and playing by the rules of another time.

“It’s for the love of the game,” he said. “They weren’t making million dollar salaries. It wasn’t much thought. You would go out to play ball because you loved the game.”

They didn’t have a club in his hometown, so in 2000, he started the Colorado Springs Vintage Baseball Association. The club has remained strong ever since, with many summer fixtures attracting plenty of attention.

Vintage Baseball (copy)

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 recounts scenes such as “Colorado Springs millionaires, the Sky Sox playing at Spurgeon Field, which baseball Hall of Famer graduated from Wasson High School and how legendary Hawaii is. The Isles landed in our mountain community. The hits keep coming, and so do the countless baseball stories that helped shape the Pikes Peak region.”

The hits attempt to find Hadix, who has suffered broken fingers from playing games set in a period without gloves.

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

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

Hadix’s love for the game is alive and well. When he plays, he doesn’t think about now. He sometimes thinks about that 9-year-old kid who believed in magic. He will always want to remind you why we play.

“This is a chance to slow down and take a minute to reflect on the past,” he said. “If we know what happened in the past, we can estimate what is happening in the future.”

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