Imagine traveling back to when baseball was played in its purest form. A rustic and pristine pastime of sportsmanship, athleticism and enjoyment. This is how baseball once was, and now thanks to a group of fanatics, a rebirth of vintage base ball is alive and well in Southern California, where it can still be enjoyed in this pure form today.
Vintage base ball is baseball played by rules and customs from an earlier period in the sport’s history. The game’s name is typically written “base ball” rather than “baseball,” as that was the spelling used before the 1880s. The ball of the 1860s was a bit larger, heavier and softer than the modern baseball. Games are typically played using rules and uniforms from the 1850s, 1860s and 1880s.
The first and only vintage” base ball” league in Southern California was formed in 2018, dubbed So Cal Vintage Base Ball. SCVBB is a Vintage Base Ball League in Southern California playing by the 1886 Spalding rules that uses replica equipment and uniforms.
As the league gained momentum, five clubs made up this league. Now, in its second formal year, a team from Temecula has been established, bringing them to six. Including the Temecula Dear Brothers, the Crestline Highlanders, Palmdale Blue Stockings, Riverside Smudge Pots, Long Beach Oilers and Redondo Beach Wharf Rats make up league.
More often than not, the games are not only competitive, but also a reenactment of baseball life similar to American Civil War reenactments. Players dress in uniforms appropriate to the time period, and many teams appear to be direct copies of teams that existed in the late 19th century. The styles and speech of the 19th century is also used while playing vintage base ball. Terms like “huzzah” for expressing delight, “striker” for batter and “cranks” for fans, just to name a few, are all used to keep with the era’s theme. Ballists use small, webless gloves and swing 40-ounce lumber. A walk takes seven balls, and the hidden ball trick is legal. All disputes are arbitrated by the team captains and the judge, which is an umpire, although the term “sir” is also used. A judge’s decision is final and is always to be treated in a respectful manner.
Fans were invited out to Sheffield Park in Winchester Saturday, Jan. 11, where they got to experience how the national pastime was played in the 19th century. The Crestline Highlanders Club matched up against the Fullerton Fire Knockers Club to promote the upcoming second season of the So Cal Vintage Base Ball League. The region’s local club, the Temecula Dear Brothers Vintage Base Ball Club, was recruiting at this event and are currently seeking about four to five more players. For more information visit www.scvbb.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.