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Baseball gone wild: Chesbro Challenge returns to Conway

Mike Haley hits an oversized ball with a broom for a bat from a pitch from Malcom Corse at the athletic fields behind the Conway Town Hall last year before last year's Chesbro Challenge.
(Recorder file/Paul Franz)

Mike Haley hits an oversized ball with a broom for a bat from a pitch from Malcom Corse at the athletic fields behind the Conway Town Hall last year before last year's Chesbro Challenge. (Recorder file/Paul Franz) Purchase photo reprints »

CONWAY — It’ll be batters-up for Conway residents on July 12 as the second annual Chesbro Challenge kicks into gear, but baseballs won’t be all that fly through the air.

The event, which will be held at noon at the Conway Grammar School, is being organized as a fundraiser by the committee that is planning the town’s 250th Anniversary Celebration, which will be held in 2017.

During the game, players may find beach balls, wiffleballs and softballs flying in their direction, and instead of just the traditional bat, they’ll have to return fire with brooms, frying pans and tennis rackets. To make matters even tricker, they will have no idea what they’ll be batting with until the step up to the plate.

Conway resident and committee member Mike Haley, who created the event, said he plans on adding new projectiles to the mix this year, including a flying disc, which he said will have to be caught by the batter and thrown back over the pitcher’s mound within two seconds to count as a hit.

“It’s the semblance of an old-fashioned pickup game, in a sense,” Haley said. “It’s lots of laughs and lots of fun. It’s about making a community a community, and it’s the only way we’ll be able to put the 250th together.”

Townspeople who are interested in playing on one of the six 12-member teams will have to pay a $15 entry fee, which includes a T-shirt.

The game was moved from the town ballfield this year due to drainage work that will be done there over the summer.

For those who don’t compete in the ballgame, other activities and competitions, such as an egg toss and a tug of war, will be available. Haley said the event isn’t just for Conway residents, either, and that anyone who wants to drop in will be able to enjoy food, raffles and beer from local breweries in the beer tent.

“I think some of the older people may be a bit reticent, they say ‘I can’t play baseball.’ But they can have some of the younger people do the running for them,” said Haley. “It doesn’t need to be an all-day affair either, people can come or go and just have a good laugh and support people,” he said, noting that the game will coincide with the Green River Festival in Greenfield.

Haley said he hopes to issue challenges for residents of neighboring towns such as Deerfield, Ashfield and Shelburne to come play next year if the event is a success.

According to Haley, the game still has about 30 spots that need to be filled. Those who are interested in playing for one of the teams can sign up at Baker’s Country Store, the Conway Inn, or by emailing Haley directly at verybratty@aol.com.

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