Old Time Baseball Alive In Tennessee

You have probably heard of Civil War Re-Enacters but what about 1860s baseball games?

Yep, they have that here in Tennessee.

The Tennessee Association of Vintage Base ball was established in 2012 to recreate the civility of 19th century baseball or base ball (with space included) as they call it.  Games are played like they would have been played in the 1860s.

So what are the main differences between today’s game and the one played in the 1860s?

  • The cover of the ball is made from one piece of leather rather than two and stitched in a cross pattern.  The ball is wound less tightly than a modern baseball and is slightly larger.
  • There are no restrictions on the bat size except a 2.5″ diameter on the barrel.
  • The pitcher throws the ball underhanded from 45 feet away and is expected to deliver a hittable ball.
  • No gloves are used.  The catcher and fielders play with bare hands.  Two handed catches are the most common, but one handed catches will be occasionally used to draw cheers from the spectators.
  • Before 1865, a batted ball caught on one bounce caused the batter to be out.  For the other base runners, catching the ball on the bounce allows them to advance in the same way as a ground ball.
  • There is no over-running of first base.
  • The home team doesn’t always bat in the bottom half of an inning.  Who bats last is determined by the arbiter throwing a bat between the team captains.  Whoever grabs the knob of the bat chooses the order.
  • The field is the same size and shape as the modern game, but bases are 12″ square.  Home plate is a 12″ painted white disc.  First and third bases are half way into foul territory.  A line is drawn parallel to the pitchers point through home plate.
  • A batter hit by the ball is not awarded any base.
  • No infield fly rule.  A player may intentionally drop a ball to begin a double play.

There are currently 11 teams in the league representing cities throughout the state.  Games are not played in million dollar taxpayer funded baseball stadiums.  They play their games at mostly historic sites such as:  Bicentennial Capitol Mall, Carnton Plantation and Rocky Mount Historic Site among others.

Team uniforms look like they stepped out of the 1860s as well.  If you get the image of a baseball game played on Little House on the Prarie TV show you have got the right idea of what it looks like to attend a vintage baseball game.  Most of the players even go further with their waxed mustaches and glasses to enhance the feel of the time period.

Tennessee is not the only league playing vintage baseball.  Currently there are over 400 teams in the United States and Canada.   The league is a member of the Vintage Base Ball Assocation.

The Lightfoot Club of Chattanooga and Mountain City Club of Chattanooga are currently tied for first place at 3-0.

For more information about the league, go to:  www.tennesseevintagebaseball.com

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