The Rushmore Drillers
– By #Me
When you think of the skills required of the men who carved Mt. Rushmore, what are some areas of expertise you would assume necessary? Hard worker, good with a jackhammer, willing to put their life on the line, and… baseball savvy?As odd as it sounds, being good at, and loving baseball was one of the biggest factors in Gutzon and Lincoln Borglum’s new hire requirements around 1930. Why? The Mount Rushmore Baseball Team of course!
The sculptor Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln were extremely competitive, and they absolutely loved baseball. To help boost morale of their workers and to settle personal bets, they created a baseball team. The men would carve into granite 7:30am to 4pm, six days a week, and then practice ball after work. On Sundays, they would compete against other nearby teams. Talk about hard work, (and play)!
The local citizens assembled in camaraderie behind the “Rushmore Drillers,” and because of Lincoln Borglum’s aggressive recruitment/hiring, the team placed 3rd in the semi-finals of the South Dakota State Amateur Baseball Tournament.
The baseball team was great for building unity among the workers. Nick Clifford, the last surviving Mount Rushmore laborer and Rushmore Driller team member, has talked about how the members of the team would often play pranks on each other, making work time more fun until it was time to play ball. Mr. Clifford reminisced about shoes and lunchboxes being nailed down to platforms, men goofing around to pass the time between work and games.
The coolest thing about the Mount Rushmore Baseball Team? Their practice field was right where our museum is today! The land where the National Presidential Wax Museum, and neighboring Grapes and Grinds coffeehouse sits, is where Gutzon and Lincoln Borglum would practice with their team until late into the evenings back in the 1930’s.
When you come visit us, you can see the men from the monument and the men behind the making of the monument. You will also see the place where the creators of the great Shrine to Democracy let loose, joked, became friends, and did the most American thing of all - played baseball.