Get ready for gentlemen’s game in Glenwood
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado It was a drizzling, summer night, and practice for Vintage Base Ball was in full swing. In the air was the smack of bats, the thud of balls against the ground and the sweet smell of grass. A group of sweaty guys were smiling, razzing each other.Come on, how much could baseball have changed since the 1860s?Glenwoods Frontier Historical Society sets out to answer that every June.Tonight, for the ninth straight year, the Glenwood Sluggers will battle the Yampah Stars. But dont expect any angry faces, foul language or even any stealing of bases.Vintage Base Ball isnt that sort of deal.Its a gentlemens game, said umpire John Hines (aka Catfish), resting on the sidelines. Players must kindly ask the scorekeeper to tally up each new run. They must apologize to the ladies in the crowd if they have to disrupt their dinner to catch a fly ball. After most pitches, Hines even encourages the boys to say Thank you sir, may I have another. And thats just the beginning.Players all have nicknames but no mitts. The pitches are thrown underhand, and the ball remains play even if the crowd catches it. The teams are encouraged to bring some coins with them, in case they need to bribe a stubborn crank (onlooker) for the ball.And Hines, in his top hat, a gun strapped to his hip, is the one corralling the scene. For him, the point of this is three-fold. Its got to be historically accurate, fun and educational.Youll notice winning never came as part of that, he said, sounding friendly but serious, too.
None of the other fellows on the field spoke of competition one bit, either.Its great to get people out here, see the roots of baseball, said Greg Jeung, 50. Also known as Cookie, he was center scout standing in center field, that is. A player for the last five years, hes more into the history of thing than the sports aspect. This is a true group experience, and he enjoys getting to share the past with so many spectators even if he sometime forgets to bring money with which to bribe them.I encourage everyone to come here, close their eyes and think back to that time, back in the day, he said.For Sam Irman, 31, (The Rattler) theres something pure about this kind of ball. It brings a kid-like quality to it, he said. Its like playing for the first time again.Mighty Casey Ward, 32, explained that some the best (and most painful) moments come when he has to field the ball without the help of a glove.You get the barehanded catch all the time, he said. So you feel like a super hero.After watching his fellow ballists (another antiquated term) take their turns at bat, Hines talked a little more about just what draws him to this sport. A ball player since he was 4, hes been in little leagues, adult softball teams and was even All-State in high school ball. But its Vintage Base Ball that really strikes a chord with him now. This isnt about age, salaries or high-tech gear. This is just baseball, pure and simple.Its the fun of playing the sport the way it was meant to be played, he said.Bribes and all.Contact Stina Sieg: email@example.com
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