Thursday, August 9, 2012

Weekend in Rochester

Having now attended my second National Silver Ball Tournament at Genesee Country Village, I have to say that it is a first class event.  The location is a manageable distance for teams from the east coast and the Midwest so a New Jersey club gets the chance to play teams from Ohio and Michigan which is very enjoyable.  The venue itself is great and the event is very well managed so it's a very enjoyable experience.  What follows are some pictures and comments about the 2012 tournament - thanks to Mark Granieri, Ken Mandel and Joe Gallo for the pictures

Above is the entrance to the Silver Ball Ball Park, a recreation of a 19th century base ball field.  It's one of three fields at the village and always the site of the championship match.

The Silver Ball Park also features its own platform for the public address announcer and the official score keeper.  It's reached by a fairly unstable set of stairs that this aging score keeper is going to have some trouble negotiating in the future.

Each of the three fields has a scoreboard - the below is at the Meadow, the second of the three different playing sites.  The score is from the Neshanock's opening match with the Rochester (Michigan) Grangers and illustrates something about 19th century base ball.  In the 19th century (and for part of the 20th), the home team didn't automatically bat second.  In the 19th century, there was a bat toss or coin flip with the winner getting to choose.  It also wasn't uncommon for the team batting second to hit in the bottom of the ninth even though they had already won the match.  Although it's not pictured here, in this case the Neshanock did hit in the bottom of the ninth, not to honor 19th century custom, but because runs scored was a tie breaker.

In addition to hosting four men's teams, Genesee Country Village also hosts two women's teams - the Brooks Grove Belles and the Priscilla Porters BBC.  They played a match on another part of the Meadow (which gives a sense of its size) while the Neshanock - Granger match was taking place.  Watching them I realized that in all the newspaper accounts I've read of New Jersey base ball between 1855 and 1870, I have never seen anything about women playing the game.  Not sure of the larger history, maybe it comes post Civil War.

Please note that in the below picture, the attention of the Neshanock is riveted on their own match and not looking at what promises to be a close play at first in the women's match.

In a very womanly (I guess that's the opposite of manly) gesture, the two teams invited members of the crowd to join the game.  The below picture captures three members of the Neshanock party (left to right - Eve, Jill and Filly) displaying their prowess.  All told there were close to nine wives, girl friends and significant others in attendance for the Neshanock.  Perhaps the next time the Neshanock takes part in the tournament, we can field a women's team as well - I have an idea for the score keeper.

Below is the scene in the Silver Park at the beginning of the Neshanock's match with the Live Oak Club of Rochester.  The outfield fence is about 300 feet from home plate and interestingly any ball hit over the fence is a ground rule double.  That's not a 19th century rule, but a reflection of the way the field slopes downward just past the fence.  Mark "Peaches" Rubini managed to clear the fence twice in his first appearance in Rochester - clearly he likes New York State a lot better than Massachusetts.

Score keepers always have to be paying attention to the field of play.

Below is another view of the Silver Park including the refreshment stand where two years ago Eric Miklich famously purchased a hamburger which he ate on the field between innings - resting it on third base when necessary.

Below is a view of the third field called the staging area.  The balloon in the background is a recreation of a Civil War observation balloon.  The three states whose troops played the most base ball at the front during the Civil War were Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey so it's very possible that this recreates a scene from Union army camps - most likely minus the uniforms.

The Neshanock after the Grangers match - I'm fining myself .25 cents for disorderly conduct for smiling in the picture.  My only excuse is that Brad "Brooklyn" Shaw was composing a Neshanock team song on the fly - rhyming Neshanock with words like "panic" and manic."

                              It was a great weekend!

1 comment:

  1. Richard HershbergerAugust 19, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    Regarding women playing base ball, Deb Shattuck has done a lot of research on the subject. Some existed by the 1860s, but the press tended to either ignore them or treat them condescendingly as a novelty spectacle. I know base ball was played at some women's schools, but they tended to be discreet about it rather than exposing themselves to public ridicule. In the 1870s, when the line between professional base ball exhibitions and other staged spectacles was not great, some promoters put on touring teams of women. The quality of play was not the point. The phenomenon mostly died out pretty quickly.

    If you are interested in the subject, Deb Shattuck is the best place to direct inquiries.