It's baseball ... but not really. It's the latest thing! But also super old.
Meet vintage baseball, a new fad embraced by hipsters and historians, as profiled by the Guardian Tuesday. Vintage baseball looks a bit like the sort you'll see in MLB, but vastly stripped down and returned to the roots of the game.
The playing field looks like an open plot of land. Uniforms are baggy with floppy hats. Baseballs were larger and stitched differently. Fielders catch the ball sans gloves and pitchers, who are called bowlers, throw underhand. Even the cheers are different.
The "peculiar nomenclature" includes "'Huzzah!' and references to the "willow," the "dish" and the "striker." Translated: Hooray! The bat, the home plate and the batter, wrote the Guardian.
Since its inception in 1996, some 500 teams have formed across the U.S. and Canada under the Vintage Base Ball governing body (back in the day, base ball was two words). The sport has picked up enthusiasts that range from baseball lovers looking to get in touch with the roots of the game, to hipster-types looking to do something off-beat, to historians using the game as an avenue to further explore the mid-1800s.
And, fans of the game say, it's a fun, simple way to get out and play a sport. "I think the simplicity of the game is attractive," Trapper Haskins, president of the Tennessee Association of Vintage Base Ball, told the Guardian. "There were only 40 rules in 1864, no bullpens or designated hitters, no advanced metrics. Hell, they didn’t even have gloves. Vintage base ball is a reprieve from a very hectic culture."
Different eras of "base ball" in the 1800s had vastly different rules. Early on, teams would play first to 21 runs wins, at times pitchers were mandates to give hitters the best chance to make contact with the ball and in the early 1860s batters weren't allowed to advance past first base on a hit, reported the New York Daily News in a piece last week. Different vintage baseball locations even play by different era rules from the mid-1800s thru the 1880s. Eventually, the game took on a form closely resembling what you'd find on most diamonds today.
"By 1884, you were looking at something that pretty much resembled a modern game," Charles Klasman, manager of the vintage team the Gothams, told the Daily News. But for those looking for a fun taste of history, playing by the old rules might just be a good time.
"I think we spend a lot of time doing things like doing the laundry and talking about how people grew their food and about how hard life was," Danielle Brissette, a historian involved a North Texas team, told the Guardian. "And we don’t spend a lot of time talking about what was enjoyable about living 150 years ago."