I had a ball playing old time Base Ball | PostIndependent.com
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I had a ball playing old time Base Ball

Casper's CornerJeff CaspersenGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Before Friday, I couldn’t have told you the last time I wore suspenders. That was before fulfilling my long-unsatisfied suspender fix by suiting up and playing a match of Vintage Base Ball.Playing the national pastime in its 1860 form proved to be quite the experience. Back then, the game certainly wasn’t about money, providing you don’t count the silver dished out to umpires or fans as bribery.Playing baseball didn’t serve as anyone’s day job. That’s for darn sure, and, if you watch a present-day baseball game, you surely won’t find the same crowd-fan interaction you did back in the 1800s.And that’s what made my participation in Friday’s Frontier Historical Society-run exhibition match so enjoyable. Camaraderie sprouted instantly even though the handful of volunteer players (or ballists, as they were called back in the day) had, in most cases, met only a time or two prior to playing in the patch of grass and weeds between Glenwood Springs High School and the Roaring Fork River.Working together to work the crowd quickly took precedence over winning.In Vintage Base Ball, the crowd known as cranks are part of the game. They can catch foul balls that count as outs and assist umpires in making close calls. Players do their part to influence such decisions by slipping the fans coins.In a debate over one iffy call on Friday, I had a bribe attempt tossed back at me by a fan rabidly shouting, ‘I won’t be bought!'”The team I suited up for the Yampah Stars even resorted to serenading the crowd with a rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in an attempt to curry favor. Much to our dismay, umpire John Hines wasted little time pointing out that that song had yet to be written in 1860. I found those instances, and myriad other goofy interactions that night, hilarious. That’s no doubt precisely how John and Cindy Hines who put the event on every year intended the historical representation to play out. Just about everyone in attendance wore a smile for the game’s duration players, fans and bat boys alike. I can’t say things didn’t get just a little competitive on the field. No one wanted to lose, and my team, the Stars, thankfully didn’t. Sorry, Glenwood Sluggers, but I had to get that in there.Editor’s note: Post Independent sports reporter Jeff Caspersen was among those playing in Friday’s annual Frontier Historical Society Vintage Base Ball game in Glenwood Springs, a historical exhibition giving local baseball fans a glimpse of how the game was played back in the 1860s. Contact Caspersen at 384-9123 or jcaspersen@postindependent.com.


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