Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A Combination Of Vintage Base Ball And An Old-Timers Game

A game of baseball under the rules of 1868 was played yesterday on the Elysian Fields, Hoboken, by players who were experts at the style of playing in vogue 20 years ago. The game was gotten up as a complimentary benefit for John Zeller, one of the old Mutual Club's players, who has become crippled, by a number of veteran ball players. Several hundered persons were attracted to the grounds by the novelty of the game. At 3 o'clock only nine of the ancient players had arrived, and it was decided to form them into a team by themselves to play against a picked nine of young men under the old rules. The two nines were called the "Olds" and the "Youngs."

The ancients went on the field under the captaincy of "Dickey" Pearce, the once famous short stop of the Atlantics. "Dickey" wore his old-fashioned uniform of gray and red, and were it not for his gray hair and bald head would have looked as much like a ball player as ever. He took up his old position at shor stop and the other eterans distributed themselves over the field...

The old men looked very comical as they went upon the field. Some had no uniforms at all while others had on remnants of suits in which they had played a score of years ago. The old underhand style of pitching was used, and as a result the batting was terrific. The old fellows could hit the ball if they couldn't do anything else, and they dept the youngsters running for about half an hour in each inning. Then the young ones would take their turn and they got along very nicely, as the veterans couldn't stop anything. Mr. Pearce was the only one who made any attempt at real playing and he distinguished himself by some really clever pick-ups and throws. after two innings had been played the old men became tired and winded and the rest of the game was a burlesque. Any kind of a hit was a home run, for the fielders allowed the ball to pass through them and then walked after it. This kind of playing made Mr. Pearce angry and his old-time blood was up. He shouted at his men until his face got red, but they only laughed at him as they sat on the ground to wait for some boys to go after a ball batted to the outfield.

At the end of six innings the Olds had made 36 runs and the Youngs 24. That settled it; the Olds had glory enough, and the game was called...No balls or strikes were called, and all the umpire did was to do as the spectators did-look at the game and laugh.

-From The New York Times, August 23, 1888

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