MORRISONVILLE - Robert M. Garrow never wrote a book. That was, until he found a subject that really interested him - baseball.
"The Only Game in Town: A Century of North Country Town-Team Baseball 1860-1960," is Garrow's first published work, inspired by the sport that has always been a part of Garrow's life. Baseball, he said, was something he has known since he was a young boy growing up in the Altona hamlet of Jericho.
"I remember being a kid and we would pile into our friend's farm truck and go out and play these small communities like West Plattsburgh, Cadyville, Lyon Mountain, Rouses Point," recalled Garrow. "That kind of baseball - town-team baseball - has been a big part of the North Country from the early 1800s right on through."
Though now 78 years old, Garrow said he's "not old enough" to remember town-team baseball when it really became a phenomenon. In fact, the sport's popularity started to grow in 1860, which is chronicled in Garrow's new book.
"It was a great spectator sport and really the only game in town for many, many years," said Garrow. "Sundays were usually the day for baseball. There'd be picnics with families and bands playing. It was part of a tradition."
Garrow said, in addition to playing the game himself, he remembers his father and brother also playing as he was growing up.
"I played myself almost 30 years for or against pretty much every community in the North Country," said Garrow. "It was such a part of the lives of people even in the smallest communities. In some places, you'd have crowds of people in the thousands come to watch a game."
Town teams saw even greater numbers following World War I and World War II, when men returned home from overseas where they had played baseball in military leagues.
"They brought it back and that's a big reason for a lot of [town-team baseball's] growth," said Garrow. "I wanted to capture that."
The labor that went into writing the 214-page book, was a sporadic effort, Garrow said. It involved many hours of researching newspapers and speaking with local historians in his spare time and even taking time to catch up with some old friends - and rivals.
"I interviewed a number of individuals I played with back in the '40s, '50s and '60s. And, wherever I could get pictures, I did, and included it all with my writing," said Garrow.
"It's been fun. It's been like a hobby," Garrow continued, discussing his writing. "It was great just being able to go back and recapture some of the games and get back in touch with the guys I played ball with or played against."
Though the game's popularity began to diminish in the 1960s, where Garrow's book leaves off, there are still friendly rivalries among small teams today, he said. Garrow said he plans to write a second book, focusing on the sport from 1960 through today.
Garrow's book, published by Bloated Toe Publishing in Peru, is available through the publisher's Web site, www.bloatedtoe.com.