My Weekend Trip Back in Time... Huzzah!

This weekend, I made my annual time travel excursion - circa 1864, to be exact.

Yes, friends, this weekend marked the 4th Annual Gotham Cup Vintage Base Ball gathering! To those who don't know, Gotham Sports Media and the Gothams Base Ball Club of New York sponsor a weekend long tournament of "vintage base ball". Teams from all over the northeast gather in Central Park to pay America's Pastime by rules not seen on any ballfield in over 100 years.

(Before we go any further, MAJOR credit for this festival go to Ken "Trolley Car" Schlapp, Captain of the NY Gothams, who majorly picked up my slack in organizing this year's event, and thanks once again go out to Danni Caynor at the Dive Bar on Amsterdam Ave. and W. 96th St.)

As a simple shorthand, I tell people to think of a civil war re-enactment without knowing who is going to win.

Back in its infancy, the game we now know as baseball went through an evolution of rule changes. Let me give you a taste of some rules seen at the Gotham Cup:
  • Fielders could catch a ball on one bound, and the batter would be out.

  • If a batter was walked, every runner would advance even if not forced.

  • Batters had choice of strike zone between a high zone and a low zone.

  • No gloves were used in the field, no helmets for batters, no protective gear for catchers and bats were bigger and heavier.

  • There was no such thing as a "free back" - if you were caught off base at any time, you could be called out

  • Pitcher were much closer - and pitched underhand until the 1880s!
Maybe the coolest thing about the game - everyone gets a nickname. It's not Tom, Dick and Harry, it's "Pigtail", "Brooklyn" and "Express". And everyone - from age 17 to 71 - are playing for the love of the game.

The best part of the Gotham Cup is the look on people's faces when they see this game, come over and ask questions. Maybe even pick up the orange peel balls or tree trunk-like bats and feel the history. Parents love to show their kids the crack of the bat - it's a nice change from the ping of the little league games nearby

This is, by far, my most favorite weekend event. I can't say enough about the guys who participate in it - they're great to pal around with, knock back a few and swap stories about baseball or anything for that matter. I have tons of photos and links from the past four years that I'm going to add to this post, so check back soon!.

If you have the opportunity to catch a game in Central Park, or in Flemington or in Old Bethpage, then do it! If you're any kind of baseball fan, I promise you that it's an experience you'll enjoy.

No comments: