Column: Reds continue storied traditions

Jimmy Lafakis


JASPER — Some of life’s most rewarding opportunities arrive in unexpected fashions. While exploring the rich history of Dubois County athletics, I’ve learned to appreciate the chance to cover what is believed to be the oldest semipro baseball team in the country. The Jasper Reds have inspired me to think about their humble beginnings — beginnings rooted in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The Reds crafted another chapter of baseball lore during their contest against the Louisville Vipers on Friday evening at Ruxer Field. Jasper put up three quick runs in the bottom of the first inning and rode that momentum to a 12-1 victory in seven innings.

It is quite neat to think about the Reds beginning their journeys as the Jasper Acmes. The Reds celebrated their 100th anniversary in 1993 and their 125th anniversary in 2018. Their wooden bats continue to make those sweet sounds to this day. I will never get tired of hearing those bats create solid contact with baseballs.

Throughout the last month, I have had the pleasure of speaking with Reds manager Bill Alles, business manager Bob Alles and statistician Tom Alles at various games. Their insightful perspectives have helped me view one of my favorite sports in a new light. Building something special alongside family members makes success that much more meaningful. I have realized that it takes a village to flourish, and those men have remained steadfast in their efforts to enhance this brand of baseball.

I gained a greater appreciation for the team’s history in June. When the Reds honored Beverly and Maurice “Bumps” Hoffman during a sunny doubleheader against the Indianapolis Heat at Ruxer, I learned about their impacts on the town of Jasper and the Reds. I was grateful to hear Bob, Bill and Tom share their heartfelt stories about their aunt and uncle. Bumps, who was known for his power at the plate, lifted home runs that sailed well past the outfield fence. Those homers would have made for quite the striking photographs back in the day.

Photo by Jimmy Lafakis/The Herald
Jasper’s Reece Bauer (4) sprints toward first base during the sixth inning of Friday evening’s game against the Louisville Vipers in Jasper. The Reds earned a 12-1 victory in seven innings.

This year is certainly distinct for several reasons, but this entire baseball season has presented some unique opportunities. I spent memorable hours covering Jasper baseball at Ruxer throughout the regular season and postseason. Although Grant Stratton has already claimed the title of winning pitcher in a Class 4A State Championship, he did not miss a beat on Friday evening. His prolific pitches kept the Vipers’ bats in check throughout the contest.

Jasper’s offense provided a plethora of base knocks. Before the Reds came to bat in the bottom of the fourth frame, they had already tallied seven hits. Their assertiveness on the bases paid dividends in their decisive victory.

The country music’s twang and the wood bats’ cracks craft an ideal backdrop for summer baseball. The Reds embrace the beautiful game’s time-honored traditions. Although Jasper played just one game on Friday evening, I definitely appreciate the team’s usual weekend doubleheaders. They evoke memories of stories I have heard about Major League Baseball doubleheaders from decades ago.

All these years after their inception, the Reds help many people keep their dreams alive. When summer turns to fall, I will remember their dedication to their crafts.

There’s something to be said about history in the making.

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