Take Me out to the Ballgame - Civil War Style; Bull Run Event Features Games with 1860s Rules

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 22, 2011 | Go to article overview

Take Me out to the Ballgame - Civil War Style; Bull Run Event Features Games with 1860s Rules


Byline: Paulina Berkovich, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The hurler tosses the ball underhand to the striker as cranks cheer in the stands. Runners and fielders stay in contact with their respective bases until the striker knocks a ground ball into the field. The second baseman throws to first, and the striker is dead.

The terms and rules associated with 19th century base ball (written as two words until the 1880s) are barely recognizable to modern fans. But at this weekend's Manassas Civil War commemorative event for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of First Manassas/Bull Run, baseball will be revived in its original form.

There's always been a lot of interest in the Civil War [in Northern Virginia], and certainly with a big event like this, it just heightens all that awareness and all that excitement, said Kenny Loveless, a member of the Civil War Base Ball Committee. One of the reasons why we were so interested in incorporating baseball into it is that baseball securely cemented itself into America's folklore and as America's pastime as the national game during the Civil War years.

About 200 players will take part in 13 games throughout the weekend. Although some of them are new to vintage baseball, others have made a hobby of preserving the game's history.

It's part of the educational process, said Richard D'Ambrisi, historian of the Chesapeake and Potomac Base Ball Club. I give a lot of talks to interested groups, and when I stand in front of people and ask them what they think vintage baseball is, they almost always answer, 1950s. Bubble gum cards. To them, that's vintage baseball. Very few people are aware of how far back playing baseball goes here in the United States.

The Chesapeake and Potomac Base Ball Club, organized about five years ago, consists of the Chesapeake Nine in Baltimore and the Potomac Nine in Washington, though it hopes to add a third team called Old Dominion in 2012. The organization has more than 70 members, and the teams play four games a month from May to October.

This weekend, the teams expect to play three games, either among themselves or against teams organized especially for the event.

One such team will represent Dudley Martin Chevrolet, a dealership that has sponsored a softball team for almost 30 years but is new to the world of vintage baseball. …

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