19th Century Base Ball At Indiana State Museum
Teams from the Vintage Base Ball Association square off, minus the gloves
(photo courtesy of Indianapolis Hoosiers Base Ball Club)
There's a baseball game scheduled for Saturday afternoon at the Indiana State Museum that's probably unlike any baseball game you've ever seen.
Listen to Ray Steele's interview with Jordan Updike of the Indianapolis Hoosiers:
A pair of Vintage Base Ball squads will square off on the lawn of the Indiana State Museum, as the Indianapolis Hoosiers play the Indianapolis Blues. Both teams are members of the Vintage Base Ball Association, where players wear uniforms from the 19th century and play ball using rules from that era.
The Hoosiers were actually the name of Indy's first professional baseball team, first in the American Association and later in the National League during the 1880's. The Vintage Base Ball Hoosiers were founded eight years ago by the Indiana Historical Society, and team member Jordan Updike loves the old-style game. "I look around at the guys who are playing and the fans and the beautiful weather, and there's nowhere else I'd rather be."
That doesn't mean the game is easy. The Hoosiers and the Blues will play under 1864 rules on Saturday. That means the baseball glove hasn't been invented yet. "When that ball is up in the air and it's coming toward you, it's a long couple of seconds for it to come down to your hands," said Updike. "I've seen a lot of fingers broken and large bruises." Pitchers will also be required to throw underhanded, trees or other objects might be in the field of play and fans will be asked to help out the lone umpire if he isn't able to make a call. Also, a batter is out if a ball is caught on one hop, not just on the fly.
Vintage base ball is growing, especially in the midwest - the Hoosiers and Blues are two of nine active teams in Indiana. "It's such an entertaining, family friendly event. It harkens back to a time when communities were playing sports as a community building activity," said Updike.
Saturday's game starts at 1:00pm.