Olde Tyme Base Ball

March 19, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

2014-03-08 - 

On the agenda for the weekend was some "Olde Tyme Base Ball".  The town of Fayetteville, NC was rededicating a plaque commemorating Babe Ruth's first professional home run.  (As a minor leaguer 100 years ago.)  Complete with a "Babe" impersonator"!  I took a number of photos which you can see on my website in the 2014 photograph folder.

As part of the celebration they held a doubleheader playing 1860s era rules and players for the most part dressed in period outfits.  The games featured the Greensboro Patriots and the Carolina Moonshiners.  Quite interesting to watch.  The first game was played under 1860 rules and the second 1869.

Some noticeable differences:

  • Obviously - no gloves
  • Pitching was underhand similar to slow pitch softball
  • No walks
  • Anything caught on the first bounce was an out
  • As long as the ball hit in fair territory it was in play regardless of where it ended up
  • No overrunning first base
  • Defensive "basemen" played within a step or two of the bags.  SS in roughly same position
  • No stealing
  • No sliding
  • Allowed a 1 step lead

The second game was modified to 1869 rules and added:

  • Sliding
  • Stealing allowed only if the ball bounced had bounced at least twice before the behinder (catcher) caught the ball or if it got by him
  • Defensive players could play off the bags
  •  

At the event I had the opportunity to chat with one of the player's wives who shared several anecdotal stories.  These included:

-As a batted ball is fair as long as it HITS in fair territory first there are opportunities for some strange plays.  Some batters would "switch hands", changing from a right handed stance to a left handed one while staying in the original batter's box!  They would then drive the ball into the ground in front of home plate sending it off in strange directions, not necessarily out into the field!

-Another story was about an incident about catching a "foul ball".  Any batted ball is live and the batter at risk of being put out if it is caught before it hits the ground twice.  Supposedly in a game, a batter it a foul ball which upon first hitting the ground ended up in a spectator's picnic basket.  The behinder (catcher) went over and retrieved the ball from the basket.  As soon as he took hold of the ball, the umpire called the batter out!  After all, the ball had not hit the GROUND a second time!

One final thought - I wonder how many arguments there would be if today's umpires carried a walking stick with a brass knob on it??


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