28 July 2009

Take Time For Paradise—Giamatti

That big green patch out there is a glimpse of paradise. Those of us sitting in the stands had some closer glimpses in the past and wish we were still there: perhaps a kind of purgatory. This is Denton Field in Miles City Montana.


Go east on the 94 but turn off about 2 hours down the road. If you get to Bismarck, North Dakota you've gone too far. The 90 first turns south into Wyoming and then eventually east through South Dakota.


The river and the railroad and the highway run close together in many places here in Montana. Each was the main thoroughfare at some time or other. The river of course came first, then the railroad, and now the highway. Do the routes in the air follow the same pattern?


This baseball park has been here a long time. My guess is that it was built some time in the 30s as parts of it have that Civilian Conservation Corps look but I couldn't find any cornerstone to prove it.


In a small town you can't specialize too much. This field does at least double-duty, serving as a football field for the Miles City Cowboys in the fall. The dimensions of the outfield are a little odd as a result: Centerfield is 438 ft away, while the right and left field corners are only 321 and 312 ft. away. The infield is a little dusty here. I have the feeling that if too much water is used it might turn to gumbo. The American Legion State Tournament is being played here from 25 through 29 July: two Billings teams, Bozeman, Miles City from the east and Kalispell, Missoula, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat from the west. How is that for diversity? Two teams from Canada in the Montana state tournament! We are thin on the ground around here. I imagine the folks from Helena feel a little hard pressed right now.

This is a diverse crowd though as you can see mostly European. They are all cheering on different teams and different players. Some put flowers on a monument.


Hard to believe that it's been six years since this tragedy: he was a pitcher for Miles City struck in the head by a batted ball, and died soon thereafter. Baseball in Miles City has not been the same since. They were "mercifully 10-runned" in both their games in this state tournament. After the third day of the tournament there are 4 teams left, three with a loss and one, Bozeman, thus far undefeated.



Miles City is a nice little town, less than 10,000 souls I'm sure. It remind me of what those of us from small villages in the 40s would call a big town. We would probably go there for Christmas shopping or to buy a truck. It has a community college, a reform school, a nice historic district, both downtown and residential, and lots of agriculture surrounding it. Below is a view out of the front door to the historic Olive Hotel in downtown Miles City.



There is actually part of a new town out by the interstate, which then gives way to the outskirts of a real town and then finally to the center of the town itself. I saw a number of buildings from the 1880s and some very nice houses from that same period, late 19th—early 20th century. The Legion baseball teams won some state tournaments in the 30s and 40s. This town was a lot more prosperous at some time in the past.



In case anyone is interested they have some great appetizers at the Rib and Chop Place out near the interstate. These are fried green tomatoes. The gumbo soup was excellent too. The Riesling tasted of apples and pears and the Chardonnay was just right, a little warmer than the just right cold Riesling.


The only discouraging word I heard or saw on this trip was at one of the rest stops. I wonder if this sign is as effective as the signs in our national parks saying that wild animals are not to be closely approached.

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