October 23, 2021

Fastpitch softball: Gurdon Bush left his softball mark

Bob Ellis/staff photographer

In this file photo from the 2006 Old Timers Fastpitch Softball game, first baseman Gurdon Bush leans out of the way of incoming baserunner Brian Taylor.

Another mainstay of Cortland’s fastpitch softball scene over the years is gone.

Longtime player and manager Gurdon Bush passed away Sunday morning at the age of 83. The recipient of the Cortland Fastpitch League’s Dick Aylesworth Good Guy Award in 2004, Bush was for many years a player and coach for the Nomads, a team that later went by other names, including Robin Hoods and Ivan’s, and in his later years also played senior softball and volleyball.

Bush was also the patriarch of a family of fastpitch players that also included his sons Darrell and Michael Bush and Dennis (Howie) and William (Dooger) Howe as well as grandsons Dennis (Denny) and Derek Howe, Lenny Hubbard and the late Joey Hubbard.

Gurdon Bush managed or played on teams with all of them and recorded the last hit of his active fastpitch career, at the age of 72, while a member of the Young Guns, whose roster also included the Hubbard

Dick Braco, the sponsor of Mr. B’s in the CFL, recalled the year he added Bush to the active roster and had to special-order a uniform for him. “He asked for 72, and when I asked him why, he said it was how old he was when he got his last hit,” he said with a laugh. “He also had the winning hit off me a few years ago in the Old-Timers Game.

“Gurdon was a very special man; he was tough with a big heart. He was a very decisive person who knew the game of softball, and I called on him for advice many times.”

“Gurdon was a great ambassador for the game, and it trickled down to his sons and grandsons,” current CFL president Jeff Carr said. “He, along with some others, kept fastpitch alive here for quite a long time. It was always good to see him at the Old-Timers game.”

“Gurdon was pretty important to the league,” said Mike Dexter, who was a player and manager with the Red Dragon squad and now puts on the Dick Finn Old-Timers Game. “He kept it going for a long time, and kept the Old-Timers Game going too. He had lots of connections with the Nomads; when Red Dragon started playing in 1972 there were two Nomads teams.”

When he won the Dick Aylesworth Good Guy Award in 2004 — Darrell won it in 2015 — Bush told the Standard that “It is great to win this award. I’m really at a loss for words. It is wonderful, and I am glad that the people appreciate what I have tried to do for softball. I hope this award continues. There are a lot of good guys in Cortland who have played fastpitch.”

That same night Aylesworth, whose name the Good Guy Award bears, said that “I really wanted everyone to name the award after Gurdon Bush. He’s done so much for Cortland softball. I’ve played a lot of years, but he’s been much more than I have over the years. Gurdon is a great guy.”

Some history was made at that 2004 Cortland Fastpitch Old-Timers Game (now the Dick Finn Old-Timers Game).

Gurdon and Darrell Bush played for the Old-Timers and Denny Howe played for the City All-Stars, marking the first time that three generations of one family participated in the event.

When Darrell won the Good Guy Award in 2015, Gurdon Bush told the Standard that “It’s pretty neat. We played together on teams for quite a few years. He took the team (Nomads) over from me and probably did a better job than I did.”