Vintage baseball goes old-school
Post Independent Staff
Take a golf ball, wrap it in yarn, add cotton string and cover it with hand-stitched leather. Smack it with a wood bat at a gloveless fielder, and the vintage baseball game is born.
“They come quick,” Glenwood Sluggers second baseman Jim Hawkins, owner of Four-mile Bed and Breakfast, said of line drives. “It’s fun for people to see a whole different ball game.”
Cindy Hines, director of the Frontier Historical Society Museum, helped bring the event to the valley when the Colorado Vintage Baseball Association contacted her in 2000. This year, The Glenwood Sluggers take on the Yampah Stars at 6 p.m. on the field between the Glenwood Springs High School and the Roaring Fork River.
“It started out as an educational event to teach people how baseball used to be played,” said Hines, whose husband, John, has doubled as an umpire and player the last five years. “In Glenwood there are references to baseball in the 1890s, and there was actually a Glenwood Sluggers team.”
Hines said the classic appeal of vintage baseball is a draw for true baseball fans who love the old ballgame.
“You have to toughen up your hands,” she said. “We try to play it as close as it was played in 1860, around the time of the Civil War.”
For the last four years, Hawkins has participated in the Frontier Historical Society event, which is free and open to the public. This year his 13-year-old son, Clay, will join the game.
“In the past, he was an interested spectator who made a point of catching balls,” Hawkins said, referring to the vintage baseball rule that allows fans to catch a foul ball and hand it off to fielders as an out or keep it in play, depending on their affinity for the batter. “He probably made as many outs as some of the players.”
Hawkins said he plays the game in tribute to the men who not only took the field in the late 1800s as ballplayers, but who served their country.
“These people had lives, and not as just soldiers,” he said. “We kind of get Hollywooded into thinking of people as one-dimensional, but they were so much more.”
Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. 518
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