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Vintage Baseball Game Comes To Easton Saturday

The Friends of Vintage Base Ball will put on demonstrations of the 19th-century version of the sport in Easton on Saturday.
The Friends of Vintage Base Ball will put on demonstrations of the 19th-century version of the sport in Easton on Saturday. Photo Credit: Karen O'Maxfield

EASTON, Conn. – Easton’s Veterans Park will travel back to the 19th century Saturday for a pair of old-rules baseball games that pay tribute to the sport’s beginnings.

The Friends of Vintage Base Ball, a Hartford-based re-enactment group, will play a pair of games at Veterans Park on July 13. The event is co-sponsored by the Historical Society of Easton and the Parks and Recreation Department.

Along with period-appropriate uniforms, the players will operate under 19th-century rules, using different eras as their guides for each of the two games. The first game will be played as if in the 1861, the second under 1865 rules.

Compared with the current rules, some of the changes are small, such as the pitcher standing closer to the batter and throwing underhand. Other changes are more noticeable, including that early-era players fielded with their bare hands and umpires did not award walks—batters took as many pitches as necessary until they hit a ball in play or struck out.

Fans also won’t see another common occurrence in modern baseball: arguments with an umpire. As the Friend of Vintage Base Ball say, 19th-century umpires were treated with the same respect as a judge in his courtroom.

“In the Civil War era of base ball, there was only one umpire and his word was law,” the group says on its website. “Players were not allowed to speak to the umpire unless spoken to, and at all times, the umpire was to be addressed as ‘Sir.’”

The first game will start at 11 a.m., with the second game at about 12:30 p.m. Both games are at Veterans Park, 366 Sport Hill Road, Easton.

Tickets are $5 each, $20 for families of four or more and free for children under 5. Seating is scarce, so attendees are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs.

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