THE AMES BROTHERS TEAM
True or not, it has been said around West Pike Run that the Ames boys cut their teeth on baseballs, and from their earliest childhood years, their only toys were homemade baseball bats!
West Pike Run Township was home to the Ames brothers’ family farm and where the Ames boys held their earliest baseball training camps. There, Mom and Pop Ames raised a total of eleven children, nine boys and two girls. A third baby girl had also been born to the Ames’, but sadly she passed away before her first birthday. Of the nine sons, only two did not play baseball, Donald who was blind and Oscar who was past his playing days. Donald successfully graduated from the Bellefield School for the Blind, and Oscar, who was a World War I veteran, worked for West Penn Power. Oscar also managed his brothers’ now famous baseball team.
John I. was considered to be the “patriarch of sandlot baseball” in Western Pennsylvania. The brothers who made up the Ames Brothers baseball team included Adrian who played left field, Audrey who was the shortstop, Bernie, the first baseman, Oakley, the pitcher, Kenneth who played third base, Sheldon the center-fielder, and Duane who was the second baseman. Respectively, this was also their batting order. In addition to the seven brothers, rounding out the team was also a brother-in-law, Tip Campbell who played catcher, and a family friend, Andy Saffin, who manned right field. Should a spectator happen to yell, “Hey Ames,” any one of the boys could have turned around to answer!
Once, a baseball fan asked John I. Ames, the father of the boys, if one had to be an Ames to be on his team, and John I. replied, “You don’t have to be an Ames, but you do have to be a good ball player; and my boys are good!” The Ames Brothers team quickly proved just how “good” they were when in 1939, their rookie year in the Pigeon Creek League, they won the championship with 33 wins against 23 losses.
One of the more interesting games the boys played was at the West Virginia State Penitentiary. They were paid $100 to play there, which was a lot of money in those days “considering gas was 18 cents a gallon,” said Audrey and Duane Ames. The two continued the story pointing out that they had to go through three locked, steel doors just to get in the place! The story also goes that Mom Ames, had used the facilities and somehow got locked in!
The Ames baseball team maintained their winning record, possessing the championship title in both 1940 and 1941 before unfortunately having to end the 1942 season early due to the start of World War II. Three of the team members, Adrian, Duane and Oakley, went off to war, while the others stayed home and continued to work in the area around the farm. That area quickly became known as “Amesville”.
Decades later, the fine young men on the Ames Brothers baseball team were ultimately rewarded for their excellence on the field. On May 20, 1990, Duane, Audrey, and Bernie, the last surviving members of the team, along with their sister Mildred and a number of descendants, proudly attended the induction of the Ames Brothers baseball team into the Washington Greene County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.