Vintage Base Ball

Tired of over-paid baseball players and billionaire owners making the scene in today’s baseball world?  Not into slugfests that baseball games have become as of late?  Looking for baseball of a different old-fashioned quality?

Maybe Vintage Base Ball is what you’re looking for.  According to the Vintage Base Ball Association web site, Vintage Base Ball is defined as such:

 Vintage Base Ball is base ball (yes, it was two words originally) played by the rules and customs of any earlier period. Ballists wear old-style uniforms, either the early long trouser and shield shirt, or a later style lace shirt and knickers, and recreate the game based on rules and research of the various periods of the mid-to-late nineteenth century. The activity of vintage base ball can be seen at open-air museums, re-enactments and city parks and is played on both open grass fields and modern baseball diamonds. Some groups consider vintage base ball to be a new sport, but at its core, vintage base ball is a reflection of how baseball existed at an earlier time.


The Vintage Base Ball Association has member teams in 18 states as well as Ontario.  Most clubs have adopted the rules of a certain time period.  For example, a club may play by the rules and customs that were in effect in 1858. 

But what are the rules?

Using the example of 1858, here is a link to an established set of rules used back in that year by the National Association of Base Ball Players.  What I think it pretty telling and what says a lot about the game of baseball is that, to be honest, with a few obvious exceptions, the rules of baseball have not really changed in 149 years. 

The Vermilion Voles

Those in the East Central Illinois area can enjoy the Vermilion Voles, a vintage base ball club based in Danville.  I took the liberty of emailing the team’s contact person Jim Knoblauch.  He was kind enough to respond and was very helpful with my questions.  Turns out he works in the building next to mine.  Small world…

Jim says that the demographic makeup of the Vermilion Voles runs the gamut.  Their team has teenagers, men in their 60’s and everything in between.  Officially becoming a team in 2002, they get most of their players by word of mouth.

The Vermilion Voles use the 1858 set of rules.  As for differences compared to today’s game, Jim says:

 The 1858 rules involve a number of variations of today’s rules.  Most
notably, players do not wear gloves (they hadn’t been invented yet).
Strikers (batters) can be called dead (out) if the ball is caught on
the first bounce or in the air.  It’s a slow pitch game.  The ball
has crossed seams instead of today’s figure eight seams.

He encourages anyone interested to attend a game.   Their schedule is posted at the Voles’ web site.  There’s a game this weekend.  Check them out!

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