LITTLE SILVER, NJ (CHASING NEWS) -- “The man at first is fined 25 cents,” the umpire ruled. “Ungentlemanly language!”
We spent the day playing nine sweltering innings of baseball according to the rules in place in 1864 -- when men were men and baseball players used their bare hands!
We suited up with the sporting gentlemen of the Monmouth Furnace Base Ball Club for a match of vintage baseball against the New York Mutuals.
“We didn't smile in 1864, you know that,” one player said.
The two teams play in the Mid Atlantic Vintage Base Ball League and the game was part of Vintage Base Ball Day at the Parker Homestead, a historic site in Little Silver, New Jersey.
Some of the rules are different. You can catch the ball on one bounce and get the batter out. But if you catch it on a fly it is considered more manly. A ball that lands fair and goes foul is still fair. The ball is pitched underhand.
Monmouth Furnace Capt. Russ McIver explained the appeal.
“They get drawn into the history. A few of the guys were recreational softball players and then when they tried this, they gave up recreational softball. This is way more fun, because it's faster than softball. but it's not so fast that you feel like you're wasting your time out there.
“Unless you are a professional, this is one of the only times you'll be able to go out there, play and entertain an audience,” McIver said.
The game is sort of a middle ground between softball and baseball: It’s fast-paced and the lack of gloves lends a bit of a pinball aspect to the game with balls bouncing off chests.
McIver said the 1864 rules provide kind of a sweet spot for amateurs, and the team is always looking for players. For more info search Facebook for Monmouth Furnace Base Ball Club.
The next game is June 17 at noon at Longstreet Farm in Holmdel against the Hoboken 9.