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Highlights Archives

Vintage Base Ball Season Underway


A striker for Old World Wisconsin's Eagle Diamonds knocks a "cloud hunter" during a rousing game of vintage 1860s base ball at the outdoor museum's Ward School field.

Both of the Wisconsin Historical Society's vintage base ball teams, who play by 1860s rules and spell the sport's name as two words as was the practice at the time, are looking forward to another season of the gloveless game that is a far cry from the way the modern sport is played. The two teams, Old World Wisconsin's Eagle Diamonds and Wade House's Greenbush Dead Citys, both take their names and traditions from actual historic teams of the same names.

This is Your Great-Grandfather's Base Ball Game

Vintage base ball players wear authentic historic uniforms, use quaint, bygone terminology and abide by vintage rules. The hurler (pitcher) delivers the apple (ball) underhanded to the striker (batter). If the striker misses the pitch with his ash (bat), the behind (catcher) will seize the apple. But the striker might knock (hit) a cloud hunter (fly ball) or a bug bruiser (ground ball) and … well, you get the idea. The rules are unfamiliar to modern-day cranks (fans) of the game, too. Foul balls don't count as strikes, any ball caught on the fly or on the first bounce is an out, and a striker may try to make it to first base even after three missed swings if the behind fails to catch the apple.

A Spectator Sport of Growing Popularity

A growing number of visitors to both historic sites love watching the spectacle of authentically attired players, scorekeepers and officials as they play the game our ancestors knew. Several games remain this season at both sites, so check the 2012 game schedules for the Dead Citys and the Diamonds and take in a game of 1860s vintage base ball. Admission to the games is free with paid admission to the sites. And remember, all Society members receive half-price admission at all the historic sites while members at or above the History Lover level receive free admission.

:: Posted June 25, 2012

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