PARKERSBURG - It was a day of baseball 1860s style on Saturday on the lawn of Parkersburg High School.
Fans got a look at how the game was played in the years after the Civil War as the Cincinnati Red Stockings of the Cincinnati Vintage Base Ball Club played against the Franklins of Pittsburgh.
The game was sponsored by the Wood County Historical Society and the Wood County Historic Landmarks Commission as part of the "Reflections of the Past: A History and Heritage Festival" this weekend.
Photo by Jeff Saulton
Jason Ramaley of the Franklins of Pittsburgh bats during a vintage baseball game Saturday on the lawn in front of Parkersburg High School.
Photo by Jeff Saulton
Dave Brooks, a member of the Cincinnati Red Stockings of the Cincinnati Vintage Base Ball Club, awaits his turn at bat.
Larry Phillips, a member of the Cincinnati Red Stockings, has been playing vintage baseball since 2001.
The club has two teams, he said. The other is the Cincinnati Buckeyes, a team that pre-dated the Red Stockings, Phillips said.
Phillips said the team plays across the country.
TODAY'S EVENT SCHEDULE - Reflections of the Past:
* 9 a.m.-5 p.m.: New Era One Room School Museum at Mineral Wells School on W.Va. 14
* 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: Carlin's Battery D open house and drills at Fort Boreman Park
* 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: Volcano Museum at Mountwood Park off U.S. 50 at Volcano (Guided tours to the archeological dig of the Stiles Mansion also available at 2 p.m.
* 11 a.m.-5 p.m.: Blennerhassett Museum of Regional History, 137 Juliana St.
* 11 a.m.-4 p.m.: Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park
* Noon: Mid-Ohio Valley Air Show, Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport
* Noon-4 p.m.: Model Railroad Open House by Mid-Ohio Valley Model Railroad Club, NOE Office Equipment (rear entrance) 610 Green St.
* Noon-5 p.m.: Oil and Gas Museum, 119 Third St.
* Noon-5 p.m.: Henderson Hall, 517 River Road, Williamstown
* 1-4 p.m.: Henry Cooper Log Cabin, City Park.
* 2-4 p.m.: Riverview Living History Cemetery Tour, sponsored by Julia-Ann Historic District, 1317 Juliana St.
"We've played across the country, last year we played in Boston on the Boston Common, at Cooperstown at the Hall of Fame and other places," he said. "We play about 40 matches a year, from April to the end of October."
Phillips said the two clubs have 15 players each and at times players from one team will play for the other."
Vintage baseball began in the mid 1980s.
About 150 clubs participate and are members of the Vintage Base Ball Association. Baseball was spelled as two words in that era.
"Most teams are members and the association is a clearing house of information of the rules and regulations for various eras," he said.
The rules have changed many times between the 1840s and 1860s, Phillips said.
"In the early 1860s if a fair ball was caught on a bounce it was an out," he said. "By 1867 that rule was changed because they thought it was not manly to let a ball bounce, so you had to catch the ball on the fly."
Two years later, Phillips said the field dimensions were 90 feet for the distance between the bases and the ball had to be caught on the fly.
"The only difference is the pitcher is standing at 45 feet from the base and he is throwing underhand," he said. "Overhand pitching did not begin until the mid 1870s. At this point is was about defense and it never occurred to anyone the pitcher could do something to get the batter out."
Balls and strikes were not called and only on rare occasions the umpire would issue a warning, Phillips said. The pitcher was supposed to allow the batter to hit, he said.
At one time the batter was allowed to show where he wanted the pitcher to throw the ball, Phillips said.
A feature of the game was the lack of protective gear. Catchers do not wear padding and the players do not use gloves.
"Gloves came along in the 1880s, usually used by the first baseman and catcher," Phillips said. "They used gloves that were fingerless, covering on the palm of the hand.
Phillips said the Red Stockings' uniforms were modeled after those seen in a photo taken by Civil War photographer Matthew Brady and a wood cut from Harper's Magazine in the 1870s.
Jack and Linda Stokes of Vienna were among those watching the game.
"I think it's really fun," she said. "It must hurt to catch the ball. I can't believe they are bare handed. I think it's cute.
Jack Stokes found the game interesting.
"I had no idea this type of league existed," he said.
Beth Segrest of Parkersburg went to the game after her uncle posted information about it on Facebook.
"I don't know that much about modern baseball to compare it to how they played," she said. "It's cool to see how they used to do it."
Ethan Smith of Parkersburg said he enjoys baseball and liked seeing how the game has changed.
"I think it's really neat because I like baseball and it's interesting to compare the modern game to this," he said. "It's really fun to seeing those guys out there."