HADLEY -- Old rivalries and a passion for baseball never fade, not even with age. Saturday's old-timers game between the Slayton Rockets and Lake Wilson Bison helped to prove just that.
"I think we all feel a little rejuvenated after we come out here to play," Kerry Boese, 55, of Lake Wilson, said, "But after the game you begin to feel your age again. But it was a lot of fun out there."
Last year, the Bison walked away with the victory, but a controversy emerged between the two teams. That is what led to Saturday's rematch, which Lake Wilson would once again send their old rivals, the Rockets, home with a loss.
"It was really nice to play them a second year in a row, and beating them again," Boese said. "They wanted to play again to see who really was the best."
The two teams met often in amateur baseball action, both in the regular season and in the playoffs. Years of heartbreak and close games helped fuel the flames for the rivalry that still exists today between the two teams.
"It is good to have the rivalry again, but it's kind of a bitter rivalry, you know, we came to win," Jeff Grieme, 52, of Slayton said. "It is not to the intensity that was all those years ago, but we came to win. It is really nice to see all these guys. You only get to see them once a year, so it is nice."
Many of the players who made it out to represent their respective teams played for many years in the amateur league and throughout high school as well. Both Grieme and Boese remember the old days when they used to represent their high schools and the years they played in amateur baseball like it was yesterday.
"I played 12 years of amateur ball, all with the Bison," Boese said. "I used to play center field and I played there again in today's game. It was a lot of fun to come back and play with these guys. They are a fun bunch to play with. They are all competitors and good teammates."
"I caught all through junior high school and high school and in amateurs too," Grieme said. "I played four or five years for the Rockets out of high school."
Although it had been many years since both teams had played baseball or each other, both sides felt like they were able to recapture some of their youth while they relived the rivalry.
"You know, my body is actually in fairly good shape," Grieme said. "I work construction, so it isn't totally out of the ordinary for me to work this hard. But [catching] it is just so hard on the knees, but it helped to switch on and off every other inning today. I wouldn't have been able to catch all five innings."
Some players even got to try their hands at new positions that they never played while in amateur baseball. Saturday was the first time Boese pitched for the Bison in the many years he played for the team. He threw two innings in relief against the Rockets and was able to hold his own against his old rivals.
"I never got to pitch for the Bison when I was younger," Boese said. "So that was a new thing for me. I got through two innings today, but in the third I just couldn't hit the strikezone anymore."
Unfortunately, this may be the last time these two teams will meet. Even though the rivalry still holds strong, both squads are growing older and the game will not get any easier for either team.
"I think this is the last time we will play, unless someone decides to do it again," Grieme said. "But we will definitely do it again as long as there are enough able bodies to keep playing."
Daily Globe Reporter Jordan Willi
may be reached at 376-7335.