New book gives a look at America's pastime here in the North Country

MORRISONVILLE - Robert M. Garrow never wrote a book. That was, until he found a subject that really interested him - baseball.

"The Only Game in Town: A Century of North Country Town-Team Baseball 1860-1960," is Garrow's first published work, inspired by the sport that has always been a part of Garrow's life. Baseball, he said, was something he has known since he was a young boy growing up in the Altona hamlet of Jericho.

"I remember being a kid and we would pile into our friend's farm truck and go out and play these small communities like West Plattsburgh, Cadyville, Lyon Mountain, Rouses Point," recalled Garrow. "That kind of baseball - town-team baseball - has been a big part of the North Country from the early 1800s right on through."

Though now 78 years old, Garrow said he's "not old enough" to remember town-team baseball when it really became a phenomenon. In fact, the sport's popularity started to grow in 1860, which is chronicled in Garrow's new book.

"It was a great spectator sport and really the only game in town for many, many years," said Garrow. "Sundays were usually the day for baseball. There'd be picnics with families and bands playing. It was part of a tradition."

Garrow said, in addition to playing the game himself, he remembers his father and brother also playing as he was growing up.

"I played myself almost 30 years for or against pretty much every community in the North Country," said Garrow. "It was such a part of the lives of people even in the smallest communities. In some places, you'd have crowds of people in the thousands come to watch a game."

Town teams saw even greater numbers following World War I and World War II, when men returned home from overseas where they had played baseball in military leagues.

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