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Celebrate America's Pastime — 1860s Style!


A base runner for Old World Wisconsin's 1860s base ball club, the Eagle Diamonds, sprints toward first base

The sights and sounds we associate with 19th-century Wisconsin history may range from the chugging of a steam locomotive and the metal-on-metal clanking of a blacksmith pounding on his anvil to the steady gait of a team of horses' hooves clomping on gravel roads. But cheering fans rooting for their favorite baseball team? Better make that "base ball," as fans and players spelled the sport's name in the 1860s. Vintage base ball, as the historic sport is known today, has made steady gains in popularity over the past few years, and there has been a steady proliferation of vintage base ball clubs across the country. Two of those are home teams at Old World Wisconsin and Wade House.

Historic Base Ball Terminology and Rules

In 1860s vintage base ball, batters are "strikers," a catcher is a "behind," the pitcher is a "hurler," and a run scored is a "tally" or an "ace." Other quaint terminology of the day describes fans as "cranks," opponents as "adversaries," games as "matches," outfielders as "scouts," and infielders as "tenders." The rules and manner of play are far different, too. Players don't wear gloves, pitchers pitch underhanded, there is no strike zone, foul balls don't count as strikes, and a hit ball that is caught on the first bounce is an out.

Each Team Has a True Heritage

The teams derive their identities from real historic squads. Old World Wisconsin's Eagle Diamonds took their name from the Waukesha Diamonds, a team organized in 1868. The Wade House team, the Greenbush Dead Citys, derives the team name from a team that played in the 1870s — a time by which Greenbush residents knew their little hamlet would never thrive and grow as Wade House founder Sylvanus Wade had envisioned because the railroad had passed the village by in favor of nearby Glenbeulah. That bit of history accounts for the moniker "Dead Citys."

The Eagle Diamonds' next game is Saturday, July 16, when they take on their rivals, the Milwaukee Grays. The Greenbush Dead Citys will take on the Milwaukee Grays on Sunday, July 24. Game time is 1:30 on both days. The games are free with paid admission to the sites. Can't make those dates fit into your busy schedule? No problem — view complete 2011 team schedules for the Eagle Diamonds and the Greenbush Dead Citys.

If You Go

For complete details on on hours, admission fees, locations and directions, and other details, see our Plan Your Visit pages for Old World Wisconsin and Wade House.

:: Posted July 11, 2011

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