Vintage Base Ball

On July 30, NewsWorks.org asked me to cover a demonstration of old-time “Base Ball” — yes, spelled with two words. Players from the Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia ran a lesson on how the game was played according to the 1864 rules. Participants included players from Mt. Airy Baseball and the Potter Pirates (a travel team from the D.C. suburbs of Maryland and Virginia), and anyone else who happened upon the New Covenant campus in Mt. Airy. Scott Alberts from the Athletic Base Ball Club schooled the participants in the differences between today’s game and that of 1864:

  • players did not use gloves in the field
  • fly balls could be caught on one bounce and still count as an out
  • pitchers would get a warning before the umpire (called an “arbiter” in 1864) would call the first ball
  • batters (called a “striker” in 1864) would get a warning before the first called strike
  • three balls was a walk, three strikes an out
  • catchers used no additional equipment
  • players wore wool uniforms, caps and bow ties
  • pitchers must throw underhand
Click the first image below to view the full gallery.
Scott Alberts, president of the Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia, explains the 1864 rules to the players from the Mt. Airy Stars and the Potter Pirates. (Dave Tavani)

Scott Alberts, president of the Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia, explains the 1864 rules to the players from the Mt. Airy Stars and the Potter Pirates.

Tommy Meseke of the Potter Pirates paints the third-base line before the vintage baseball demonstration. (Dave Tavani)

Tommy Meseke of the Potter Pirates paints the third-base line before the vintage baseball demonstration.

Liam Kelly from the Potter Pirates holds a pale of "orange peel" style baseballs. (Dave Tavani)

Liam Kelly from the Potter Pirates holds a pale of “orange peel” style baseballs.

Tahir Parker of Philadelphia hits a ball during the demonstration game. (Dave Tavani)

Tahir Parker of Philadelphia hits a ball during the demonstration game.

Langston Livingston of the Mt. Airy Stars makes a bare-handed catch in the out field during the vintage baseball demonstration. According to 1864 rules, players do not wear gloves and can catch a flyball on once bounce and still get an out. (Dave Tavani)

Langston Livingston of the Mt. Airy Stars makes a bare-handed catch in the out field during the vintage baseball demonstration. According to 1864 rules, players do not wear gloves and can catch a flyball on one bounce and still get an out.