The Danbury Westerners collegiate baseball team has plenty of family-friendly baseball-oriented events planned for this summer -- beginning with a trip into the past on Saturday.
Prior to the Westerners' home game against the North Adams SteepleCats at Rogers Park, Westerners Director of Baseball Operations Jack Deering and the Danbury Museum and Historical Society will present a vintage 1886 baseball game between the Westfield Wheelmen and the Newtown Sandy Hooks at 1 p.m. The game will be played following the baseball rulebook as it was in 1886, and the teams will be wearing uniforms representative of that era. Ballpark food will be available starting at noon, and the Rare Occasion Barbershop Quartet is scheduled to be on hand to provide some vintage-style entertainment.
"It's almost like an old-time festival," said Westerners vice president and general manager Terry Whalen. "We're going to have cookouts, entertainment and other excitement. I envision it being like, if you turn on the television and you see pre-1900s baseball and you see how that was done, with guys running around in straw hats with cotton candy and Cracker Jack and all those kinds of things. It's going to be a great time."
The game is being presented in conjunction with the opening of the Danbury Museum and Historical Society's display "Covering All The Bases: A Pictoral History of Baseball In Danbury," which is set to open that morning at the museum, located at 43 Main Street.
To go along with the display, the museum will be holding a series of baseball-themed events throughout the summer, most of which are free. The Westerners will be holding a Meet and Greet event at the museum on July 7 from 1 to 3 p.m. On Aug. 16 from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Danbury resident former Negro Leagues ballplayer Gilbert Hernandez Black will talk about his experiences playing segregated baseball. Check out the museum's website at DanburyMuseum.org for a list of the events.
During Saturday's vintage game, Westerners players and coaches will be mingling with the crowd, talking baseball, signing autographs and posing for photos.
And speaking of photos, the Candlewood Camera Club will be conducting a photo contest for all the events of the day. Folks can check out the clubs website at CandlewoodCamera.org.
After the vintage game, fans can settle in for the Westerners game against the rival SteepleCats, which is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. The museum's executive director, Brigid Guertin is slated to throw out the first pitch.
The Westerners are also scheduled to visit several local schools in the next few weeks before summer vacation, as well as local hospitals and nursing homes.
"We have a jam-packed summer for the two months the players are here, and it's not just with the games," Westerners president Paul Schaffer said. "It's a terrific product we have, and if people come to a Westerners game, they will be hooked."
Here's a look at some of the other events and activities the Westerners have planned for this summer:
ERA Reading Program -- The ERA Reading Program -- which stands for Eager Reader Awareness -- is a summer program in which Westerners players visit local libraries and read to children and hand out tickets to Westerners games. This is the third year the Westerners have participated. The Bethel, Brookfield, New Fairfield and Ridgefield libraries have already signed on. Folks should check with their local libraries for details.
Kids Clinic -- A free morning of instruction from Westerners players and staff, for kids ages 6-12. Set for June 23 at 9 a.m. at Rogers Park. Parents can register their kids at Danbury Parks and Recreation on East Hayestown Road. Email Schaffer at Paul@danburywesterners.com for additional information.
Westerners Summer Camps -- The Westerners will host three camps in conjunction with 21st Century Sports for kids entering grades K through 10. The three sessions will be July 9-12, July 16-19 and July 23-26. Each day's session will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is also a half-day option from 9 a.m. to noon for kids in grades K through 2. Registration is $225 for one camper, $425 for two and $625 for three. For details, look on the Westerners website, DanburyWesterners.com, or call 21st Century Sports at 914-831-9406. A portion of the proceeds from the camp will be donated to Danbury Youth Baseball.