Catch the ball on one hop and the batter is out. That is one of many rule variations for a vintage base ball game which will be played in Gaylord on Sunday, August 10th.
Former Gaylord Islanders players are being called out of retirement to take on the St. Croix Base Ball Club. The vintage base ball match will be played at Walsh Field beginning at 1:00 p.m. St. Croix will then play at Arlington at 5:00 p.m.
For the past ten years, the St. Croix Base Ball Club has been playing vintage baseball games throughout Minnesota and played against a team from Arlington last year. The Arlington team has also competed in a vintage base ball tournament hosted by the St. Croix Base Ball Club.
In December 1997, the Quicksteps, a Twin Cities vintage base ball club, challenged the Washington County Historical Society to a match game of 1858 base ball rules. WCHS accepted and decided to revive the Saint Croix Base Ball Club to defend the honor of the St. Croix Valley and the National Pastime. Through the sponsorship of Andersen Windows, the Saint Croix base ball nine again took the diamond ten years ago as par of Lumberjack Days.
The vintage base ball matches played in Minnesota essentially emulate the game that would have been played after the 1857 nine inning rule took effect and prior to the 1864 rule change (the one-bound out rule).
The term “Vintage base ball” was coined in the mid-1990’s by a group that subsequently formed the Vintage Base Ball Club Association. The term was quickly adopted by groups around North America who play “base ball” under old rules. To retain the vernacular of the early nineteenth century, most groups spell it with two words, although the hyphenated “base-ball” was in common use after the Civil War and until the early twentieth century.
Many mistakenly equate vintage base ball with the hobby of re-enacting. Although some groups may enact old base ball games with the same detail and historic precision as Civil War re-enactors, vintage base ball is a broadly defined activity where the only expectation is to play base ball using authentic rules from an earlier time. The clothing, setting, language, accoutrements, etc can vary greatly from game to game and group to group. Although vintage baseball was firmly established in museums, many independent groups also wear old uniforms, swing old-style bats and shout words no heard since the nineteenth century.
Players do not use gloves in the vintage base ball games. Among the other rules used in games played by the St. Croix Base Ball Club include:
• The pitcher must deliver the ball as near as possible over the center of the home base and for the striker;
• The ball must be pitched, not jerked or thrown to the bat;
• The striker is out if a foul ball is caught, either before touching the ground, or upon the first bound;
• The striker is out if a fair ball is struck, and the ball is caught either without having touched the ground, or upon the first bound;
• If an adversary stops a ball with his hat or cap, or takes it from the hands of a party not engaged in the game, no player can be put out unless the ball shall first have settled in the hands of the pitcher;
• No change or substitution shall be made after the game has been commenced, unless for reason of illness or injury;
• No person shall be permitted to approach or to speak with the umpire, scorers, or players, or in any manner to interrupt or interfere during the progress of the game, unless by special request of the umpire;
• No person shall arrears to any other club, or who shall at any time receive compensation for his service as player, shall be competent to play in any match;
• Should a striker stand at the bat without striking at good balls repeatedly pitched to him, for the apparent purpose of delaying the game, or of giving advantage to a player, the umpire, after a warning, shall call one strike, and if he persists in such action, two and three strikes. When three strikes are called, he shall be subject to the same rules as he had struck at three fair balls.
Organizers encourage the public to attend the vintage base ball game and say the umpire interacts with the crowd throughout the match.
Gaylord’s Baseball Association is also planning a Hog Roast in conjunction with the game. Serving will begin at 11:00 a.m.