…that from the 1930s until about the early 1970s, Sharon fielded a team in the semi-pro Interstate Baseball League (IBL). Playing out of Adams Field just north of town, the Sharon Baseball Team (known occasionally as the Cardinals) played against teams from Amenia, Millerton, Millbrook, Pine Plains, Lakeville, Salisbury, Canaan, and Winsted. After World War II, the team’s home base moved to the newly created and dedicated Veterans’ Field in Sharon Valley.
The Interstate Baseball League
Usually an A-team league, the IBL’s semi-pro status was due to the presence of a paid pitcher and catcher. In the late 1940s and 1950s the league imported the pitcher and catcher from Brooklyn, New York. The players took the train to Sharon Station, where they were picked up at the station (and brought back) by a rotating group of team members, parents, and fans.
Baseball was the Sunday afternoon activity of choice in Sharon and around the area. Huge crowds came to the field to watch the local guys face retired pros. Among the locals were Rusty Hansell, Pete St. Martin, Ed Kirby, Bill Wilbur, Don Humeston, Jack Riley, Jerry and Bub Pitcher, and Pete Lamb. Don Hempe (who pitched for the Amenia Monarchs) and Austin Knickerbocker (who played for the Pine Plains team after a stint with the Philadelphia A’s) made up the roster of pros. Of course, most of the players were just regular local men, out to enjoy the fun, camaraderie, and competition of the IBL games.
Fans Honk Car Horns to Applaud Good Plays
Rowdy fans, often sitting on car hoods drinking out of bottles hidden in paper bags, were enthusiastic supporters, honking horns to applaud a good play. Betting on the games was a sport in itself and team rivalries were fierce, with the Lakeville team Sharon’s greatest enemy. The league held playoff games late in the season, with the top four teams facing each other in a three-game series. In one memorable year, the last game of the playoffs between Canaan and Amenia took place on November 10th and was reported in the following day’s New York Times as the “last baseball game of the year in the United States.”
The Interstate Baseball League gradually faced problems as teams brought in more out-of-town players as “ringers” and as the semi-pro teams became too professional. By the early 1970s, the amateur Tri-State Baseball League, still in existence today, replaced the IBL.
Courtesy of the Sharon Historical Society. A longer version of this article originally appeared on the Sharon Historical Society’s website.