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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 17, 2008

Summer of ’48 holds fond memories for Bradt boys

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — Sixty years ago, the fields were alive with the sounds of young men playing a boys’ game.

The local diamonds were filled with talented ball players, seeking little more than community and personal pride, not fame and fortune.

Men like the Brothers Bradt — Ed and Richard — were showing off their skills for the Altamont Athletics as they took on teams from Guilderland, Knox, Berne, New Salem, Albany, Duanesburg, and Schenectady.

Some players like Richard Bradt took the game a little more seriously than the others. Some were able to at least get a taste of playing professional baseball while, for others, just joining the boys for a Sunday game was more than enough.

“We played in the old Helderberg League,” said Ed Bradt, who still makes his home in Altamont. “There were several great teams in the league. It was real country hardball.”

With teams in the league named the Schenectady Krals, the Albany Hobos, and the Guilderland Indians, the games offered some colorful moments.

“We were champions in 1950,” Rich Bradt said. “The ’48 team was a good team. Albany won it that year. They wore beat-up Levis with patches. The same with their shirts. They looked like hobos.”

“There were some real good ball players,” Ed Bradt said. “Some of them played pro ball.”

Ed’s own brother, Rich, was a dynamite player at shortstop for the Athletics. He had a tryout with the Boston Red Sox and finally latched onto the Brooklyn Dodgers’ organization.

“He got married and that ended his so-called professional career,” Ed Bradt joked.

He later added, “My brother had a real desire to play professional baseball. He worked at the game real hard. He played shortstop and he wanted 50 groundballs hit to him after practice. You got tired of hitting balls to him.”

Rich Bradt played for the Olean, N.Y. team in the old PONY League. He played for six weeks.

The season began as soon as the weather turned nice and the fields were ready for play. Teams would play until early fall as the leaves were changing colors and the days got shorter.

“Maybe we would play a make-up game during the week,” Ed Bradt said. “But most of the games were on weekends. And, of course, there were no lights. It was all day baseball.”

 The Athletics were formed and run by manager Jim Pino, who was also a co-owner of The Enterprise. Pino was in charge of scheduling, finding players, and managing games.

“The first club was around ’46 or ’47,” Ed Bradt said, “we played until the mid-50s. Guys would play for a year or two and then the guys would get married or take a job and that would be it. Guys would be coming and going. That’s baseball. You had to tryout and make the team.”

The Bradt brothers agreed that John Van Eyck was the team’s captain.

“He organized some things and got the club together,” Ed Bradt said. “He was our captain.”

The Bradt brothers were joined on the team by two brothers-in-law. Mickey Plummer, who played first base, and Pete McTice, who was infielder, made it an even bigger family affair.

The players did not get paid for taking the local diamonds, but the love of the game was much stronger.

“We didn’t get money for this,” Ed Bradt said. “We collected maybe 50 cents a game and that would help us buy balls and bats and for upkeep of the field.”

The Altamont nine first played their games on a field located on Gun Club Road, but soon moved up the Hill.

“We played on the Legion Field in the part of town by Gun Club Road,” Ed Bradt said. “It was near Dunnsville Road. It was right next to a recreation park. Then right next door was the Gun and Rod Club. Then we moved up the Mountain.”

Harold Durfee ran a tavern near Warner’s Lake in East Berne and across the road from the tavern there was a ball field.

“Durf wanted a ball team and he had built a ball field,” Ed Bradt said.

The players, and sometimes their wives, would all pile into cars to form a caravan that would go to that day’s away contest.

“We got rides with different guys,” Ed Bradt said. “We would meet up with the guys who would have cars and away we went. We didn’t have a team bus.”

And then when they got to the opposing team’s field, the battle would begin.

“We didn’t see many fights or anything,” Ed Bradt said. “The boys played to win. Both teams. But we held no grudges.”

The teams would sometimes get together after the game and have a few beers and some food.

“It all depends on the visiting team,” Ed Bradt said. “A lot of us used to go to the tavern after and have three cold beers. Mrs. Durfee made a good sandwich.”

Ed Bradt said that the team got a lot of support from the people in town and some townsfolk would even travel with their teams.

“We got quite a lot of Altamont people supported us,” Ed Bradt said. “Some people would make a Sunday afternoon out of it. They would have a picnic when we were up to the lake. Up at Thompsons Lake, the Albany team would go boating or swimming at the state park down the road.”

Ed Bradt, who in the late 1940s worked as a branch manager for a wood-products manufacturer in Albany, said many of the players on the team held good jobs after returning from fighting in World War II.

“A lot of guys worked for GE or out at the [Army] depot in Guilderland Center,” he said. “A lot of guys worked for the Delaware and Hudson Railroad. They had various jobs.”

Many of his former teammates moved on to have lucrative jobs and careers in many different fields, including Keene Hilton who became a minister in Altamont and his brother Gramer who became a CEO at a steel company in Pittsburgh.

“Keene was a competitive pitcher and was a little hot-headed,” Rich Bradt said. “You wouldn’t believe he would become a preacher. In Berne-Knox one time, he was pitching and he went after a pop fly by Berne-Knox’s bench. He tried to catch it but they didn’t move out of the way and the Berne-Knox guys were giving him a hard time. He didn’t catch the ball, but he gave them a warning like, ‘I’m going to knock you on your ass.’”

Rich Bradt and Edgar “Bones” Holtslander were able to play a little pro baseball.

“He played pro ball in the South in Mississippi in the old Cotton League,” Ed Bradt said. “He pitched his arm out. He’s now a certified CPA.”

“We went into the Air Force together,” Rich Bradt said. “We went to basic together and then we split up when we got out of basic and we hadn’t seen each other since. A few months ago I saw that he played professional ball in Mississippi.

“I found his number and picked the phone up. It was a good number. A man answered and I said, ‘How are you doing Bones?’ Not too many people called him Bones. He tried to hook on a baseball team in Kokomo, Ind., Paducah, Ky., but then he ended up in the Cotton Leauge with Vicksburg.”

Rich Bradt’s best memories are from plays on the field.

“Mickey Plummer was at first base and I was a crazy young shortstop,” he said. “When I got a hot one [ball] and fielded it cleanly, I threw a curve ball. I pitched occasionally. It gave me a thrill and I needed room to throw the ball like that.”

Ed Bradt said the one thing that stands out for him about playing for the Athletics, especially in 1948 was the friendships he forged.

“The camaraderie was great,” he said. “We were a good team. We had a lot of fun playing ball. We had a lot of spirit. We wanted to win.”

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