Rushmore DrillersPosted: August 14, 2017
As I mentioned a few posts back, my mom and I took a week-long road trip to Saskatchewan to visit family living there. On the way, we took advantage of the opportunity to visit Mount Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota.
In touring the museum for this national monument, I came across some artifacts from the Rushmore Drillers. As it turns out, during the creation process for Mount Rushmore, the men working on the mountain also had a baseball team.
Gutzon Borglum was the sculptor behind Mount Rushmore, and his son Lincoln was on hand to help oversee the project. Lincoln Borglum, it seems, was a huge baseball fan, not to mention extremely competitive, and for particularly important games, he would park his car near the hoist house and left the radio on so the hoist operator could listen to the game. The operator would then phone scores and game updates up to the men working on the mountain. In an effort to boost morale and camaraderie among the workers, the Borglums decided to form an amateur baseball team.
As part of this endeavor, the Borglums, in true competitive fashion, added an additional job requirement for men applying to work on Mount Rushmore: they must also be good at playing baseball. The men worked eight hours a day, six days a week. Then, the Rushmore Drillers practiced baseball in the evenings, and on Sundays, they played.
The team was good enough to make it to the semi-finals of the State Amateur Baseball Tournament in 1939. The greatest game in the tournament was one against the Brookings team, which went scoreless into the tenth inning. Rushmore catcher McNally walked with one out in the inning. Then 18-year-old right fielder Nick Clifford hit a line drive triple into right center field to send McNally home. Clifford later came in on a wild pitch, and the game ended 2-0. In the end, Rushmore placed third in the state. Unfortunately, however, the team disbanded when work on the monument ended following the death of Gutzon Borglum in 1941.