Dan Gross told me that the annual One Pitch-Slow Pitch Tournament at the Rumford Point baseball field was happening right on schedule Saturday. The weather, your ideal, pluperfect, heavenly late-summer-in-Western Maine weather, was a plus, of course.

Six teams competed for the prize, a trophy the winning team’s sponsor ($120 per team) could display until next year. Teams came from Buckfield, Mexico (Tommy Guns), Bethel (Doctors), Rumford (State Farm and two others).

For the uninitiated – would that be you? – a One Pitch-Slow Pitch softball game goes like this: one pitch per batter up; if it’s a ball, batter walks; a strike, the batter’s out; a hit, run for it. A slow pitch is thrown so the ball makes a 6 to 12-foot arc before it reaches the plate. There are just seven innings to a game and with the one-pitch hitch the games move fast. Dan thought there’d be 10 or 11 games before the afternoon’s winner was declared. At 3 p.m., the Bethel Docs were battling Rumford’s State Farm team; the winner would face Rumford Point in the playoffs.

Dan began the tournament tradition three years ago when he succeeded his brother Brian as president of the Rumford Point Athletic Association. The event is a fundraiser for the association. Brian and Dan’s father was a leader in the organization. Names like Kezal and Stearns still figure importantly.

In the summer’s best weather yet, watching all those grownups from all over our region playing hard and happy one-pitch-slow pitch softball was grand.

Weather watch

Thankfully, Butch Roberts and his colleagues were not out on flood and road washout emergencies when I called the Gray weather station last week. My mission was to find out how this summer’s rainstorms – deluges, more like – stack up against those of previous summers.

Butch referred me to weather.gov. Try it, discover its limitations and possibilities. And sense of humor: “click here to learn how to read this gibberish.” I learned that the average precipitation for July in our region is 3.58 inches; in July 2008, there were 5.03 inches or rain. Data for August is not yet available.

Impatient as ever, I returned to my notes from the talk with Roberts. Getting stuck in a weather pattern happens “every once in a while.” He cheered me, promising a good stretch of splendid weather just ahead of us. He reminded me that “our life span is a second.” He reminded me of Noah’s Ark – “you’d have to think there had been a lot of rain” – and he pointed out that climate spans thousands of years.

The National Weather Bureau was established in the mid-19th century. By the 1950s, the word bureau had fallen out of favor; after some experimentation, the name National Weather Service Office stuck. It is under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. “It was created basically to help the transport of goods and ships,” Butch said.

When I told him I was calling from Rumford, he said he’d been there just the day before. He visits the region’s weather observers, who assist the weather folks in Gray by reporting measurements of precipitation and temperatures in their backyards.

In Rumford, Rhonda Violette is the official observer, a post she took over from her father-in-law Armand. I have yet to talk with Rhonda, but I did connect with her sister-in-law Martha Violette. Armand, she told me, died in 2000 or 2001 after some 50 years of service to the Weather Service.

If Armand was a citizen weather observer for that long a time, he might well have inherited the post from Evaline Abbott Warren, who died in 1966. Shall I call Butch Roberts again and trace Rumford’s citizen weather observers back to its first? Could that stalwart have been inspired by the very first of the nation’s citizen weather observers – now 11,000 strong – Benjamin Franklin?

Linda Farr Macgregor lives with her husband, Jim, in Rumforrd. She is a freelance writer. Contact her: [email protected]

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