Wanna play ball like your great-great grandfather? Baseball club member Rob Zappaterrini, right, fields the ball during a game (AP photos)
Wanna play ball like your great-great grandfather?
Lexile

From afar, it looks and sounds like a regular baseball game. There's the crack of the bat, the cheering from the bench and the sliding into home.

But a closer glance at this field in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park shows something isn't quite right. They're pitching underhand. No one is using a batting helmet, fielder's glove or catcher's mask. And what's up with those floppy hats and unusual mustaches?

"Striker to the line!" yells a man wearing a straw hat, suit and bow tie.

That means, "Batter up!"

This is not your father's baseball. It's your great-great-grandfather's game.

The Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia plays the game the old-fashioned way. It uses old-style uniforms and old rules. And spells "baseball" as two words.

"It brings people back to a simpler time," said Mid-Atlantic Vintage Base Ball League commissioner Bruce "Early" Leith.

Leith also serves as president of the Eclipse Base Ball Club of Elkton, Maryland. Eight years ago, he said, there were only three teams in that area.

The Mid-Atlantic league includes the Athletic and about 20 other squads from Rhode Island to Virginia. It plays by what are called the 1864 rules.

One of the biggest differences between then and now is that fielders could catch a batted ball on one bounce to make an out. Fielding gloves didn't become common for years.

The Athletic club is named after the Philadelphia team founded in 1859. It was formed about five years ago. Co-founder Scott "Big Deal" Alberts researched the sport in the city. His teammates, called "ballists," comprise a range of ages, athletic ability and occupations.

The squad sets a high standard for historical accuracy. Their wool uniforms cost about $300. Home plate is a white disc. The bases are sand-filled canvas bags.

"We try to do everything we can as close as possible to the period," Alberts said. "Because if we're not doing that, we might as well just be playing softball in the park."

It gives spectators another way to hear the game, too. Frequent phrases from the umpire include "Tally!" as a runner scores and "The striker is dead!" when a batter makes an out.

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COMMENTS (3)
  • ryansST
    9/23/2014 - 09:42 a.m.

    Wow I want to play old school baseball! The umpire makes weird calls like "Striker to the line" and "Striker is dead". I also didn't know uniforms cost 300 dollars! Why don't they use helmets even if its there own safety.

  • NoahH-Mau
    2/05/2015 - 11:30 a.m.

    I would look funny if i played like Grandpa.
    Why did they do that?
    They should have gloves.
    I would like to play like my Grandpa.

    from:Noah
    A.K.A Hogie

  • LillyS-Hor
    5/21/2015 - 09:54 a.m.

    That was so weird. Why would they say that?I like now baseball better.Because I can understand it better.Then baseball it's cool.But now baseball is awesome.

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