A player for The Vandalia Old Capitols, complete with waxed handlebar moustache, “hurls” the ball in one of the team’s vintage base ball games, played against the Murphysboro Clarkes at Memorial Park in Nashville on Saturday, June 24. Vintage Base Ball was brought to Nashville thanks to the Washington County Historical Society who organized the event.
By Brent Huelsmann
It was back to the 1860s on Saturday afternoon as the Murphysboro Clarkes and the Vandalia Old Capitals took to the field in a Vintage Base Ball game, brought to Nashville thanks to the Washington County Historical Society.
The game was played with old time 1860 rules, which featured a lot of similarities to today’s game, but still showed plenty of differences.
While there was still the basics of the base ball we see today, the game has gone through many changes since 1860.
In Vintage Base Ball, no gloves were used, but that was far from the only difference from today’s game. Vintage Base Ball is only seven innings, and a ball can be caught in the air or on one bounce.
The ball used is softer than the ball in today’s game, and there is no bunting or sliding.
Balls are not called on batters, and foul balls do not count as strikes. Pitchers throw the ball underhand, but it can be as fast or as slow the pitcher wants.
Runners can advance on balls caught on one bounce, and tagging up is not required.
Runners can also be thrown out on foul balls if they don’t return promptly to their base.
Defensively infielders must play within two steps of their base, except for the rover (shortstop) who can play anywhere in the infield. Outfielders, or Scouts as they were called in 1860 must play straight away in their respective fields.
Terminology was also different than what one might see in today’s game.
The catcher was referred to as behind, and the fans were called Cranks.
An out was referred to as a hand, and a pitch was called a hurl. Therefore the pitcher was called a hurler.
Huzzah means hooray, and Ginger means spirited play.
Leg It! was yelled for a runner to run out an infield hit.
On the fly meant the ball was caught in the air, while on the bound meant the ball was caught on one bounce.
On the bag, means that a runner cannot overrun first base.
A hit was referred to as a Strike, and the batter was called the Striker.
The Old Capitals and the Clarkes played two games at Memorial Park on Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m. Each game was seven innings.
In the first game, the Old Capitals came out of the gate quick with three runs in the top of the first.
Vandalia would extend their lead in the third with two more runs to take a 5-0 advantage.
In the fifth the Old Capitals would add three more before the Clarkes would score two in the bottom half.
After five, Vandalia led 8-2. Vandalia would add three more runs in the final two innings and take the game 11-2.
In Game two, the Old Capitals again jumped out to an early lead with three runs in the first.
The Clarkes scored one in the second to cut the deficit to two, but Vandalia came back with five runs in the bottom half of the second to take an 8-1 advantage.
The Old Capitals added five more runs in the third to take a commanding 13-1 win. The Clarkes scored one in the top of the fourth, and two in the top of the fifth, but Vandalia would score two in the bottom half of the fifth to make the score 15-4 after five innings. The Clarkes would score a run in the sixth and seventh innings, but fell to the Old Capitals 15-6.