(HOST) American Legion baseball has long been a popular summer sport in Vermont, and commentator Ted Levin says that for more than 30 years, just one man has provided most of the hustle to keep it going in his town.
(LEVIN) Post 26 in Hartford won its 10th, and last, state American Legion title in 1991. During the past fourteen years three other Legion Posts – Post 22 in Lebanon, New Hampshire, Post 25 in Windsor and Post 24 in Woodstock – sponsored their own teams, siphoning ballplayers away from Hartford. Today, Post 26 draws players from Thetford Academy, Rivendale Academy, and Oxbow High School, as well as from Hartford High School, but struggles to be competitive with urban teams from Rutland, Brattleboro, and Bennington.
Hartford Post 26 would have stopped sponsoring Legion baseball a number of years ago if it wasn’t for the effort of Terry Colman, who has done everything possible to keep baseball at the post.
Now 82-years old, Colman manages the team’s $8,000 budget, organizes Sunday-doubleheader sandwiches, distributes and collects the uniforms, rents and gases away-game vans, gathers both the financial and moral support of the American Legion Post 26, and hires the coaches. Before home games he reads the American Legion Code of Sportsmanship – “I will keep a stout heart in defeat; I will keep faith with my teammates” – and leads the Pledge of Allegiance. For thirty years, Terry Colman has done it all for Post 26 baseball.
Colman is trim, stands yardstick-straight, which makes him appear taller than he actually is, wears glasses under a shock of white hair and baseball cap (what else?). He joined the Air Force in 1941 and served as a gunner on 25 missions over Europe, including the first American mission on Berlin. Faded blue initials, TC, are tattooed on his right forearm (After the World War he and a service buddy visited a parlor in Chicago. Flashing a wide, youthful grin, he says that at the time they were a little under the weather.) He and his wife have been married 60 years. (“I’ve been dancing ever since,” again the grin), raised three daughters, and moved to the Upper Valley in 1947, to Hartford in 1975. He was born in Williamstown in 1923.
Baseball and the military are linked in Colman’s mind. They teach boys to cooperate, he tells me, to depend on each other, and to be responsible for their actions. Since his daughters left home to raise their own families, he has devoted himself to Legion Baseball and to the boys who play the game.
Colman has seen it all. “I once had a boy who tried to pass his fishing licence off as a birth certificate,” to comply with the Legion’s requirement for an offical roster. He still enjoys line drives, well-pitched games, web gems, and, of course, when Post 26 wins.
“The hardest thing,” he says, “is getting the uniforms back at the end of the season.”
This is Ted Levin from Coyote Hollow in Thetford Center.
Ted Levin is a writer and photographer and winner of the 2004 Burroughs Medal for Nature Writing. He spoke from our studio in Norwich.