In the last post, I wrote that contrary to some well known expressions of regret about the end of the baseball season, I'm grateful for the off-season. That's partially because for me, there's no shortage of baseball activity throughout the fall and winter. If there were any doubts on that score, they were erased the day after the Neshanock's 2022 season ended. Not 24 hours after the final games were rained out, two emails came in about next season. First, was the expected invitation to participate in the 2023 Gettysburg Nineteenth Century Baseball Festival which was immediately accepted. The other, however, came from left field (not sure why left is any more obscure than center or right). It was an invitation to play a match in April of 2023 at the Fosterfields Living History Farm near Morristown, New Jersey which was also quickly accepted. This was the first communication from Fosterfields since a 2020 match was wiped out by the pandemic so while welcome, the invitation was something of a surprise.
Hamilton Club of Jersey City Scorecard - Courtesy Jersey City Public Library
The early 2023 invitations provided the motivation to get started on the rest of the schedule which has been one of my two major off-season activities. This is my fourth go-round on schedule making and while it's going well, finding opponents has been a major challenge. It's hard to know the reason, but it's likely a combination of teams cutting back on both travel and the number of matches they play. Certainly those factors have impacted planning the Neshanock schedule. The reality is that the players are volunteers and where and how often they are willing to play has to be taken into account. One thing that helps with the Neshanock schedule is the number of repeat events that have proven popular with players and spectators. As a result, in 2023, Flemington will, among others, return to Ringwood Manor State Park, Howell Living History Farm, Princeton, New Bridge Landing and the Dey Farm.
Some new and relatively new venues are also on tap for next year. In the latter category is historic Gebhardt Field in Clinton, NJ with its covered, wooden grandstand. Last year's visit went so well the Neshanock will return for two dates to play the Atlantic Club of Brooklyn and the Brandywine Club from Pennsylvania. New on the schedule will be a three team event at Smithville Park in Burlington County and a visit to Lambertville, NJ. How the Lambertville game will work is still being developed, but one possibility is recreating the day the local Logan Club took on the Athletic Club of Philadelphia, one of the country's best teams. That option will require some creativity, but given the potential for promoting local baseball history, the possibility will receive full consideration. While not yet finalized, the schedule is almost complete and should be released in early January - stay tuned.
The second major off-season project has been the scorebook. Many years ago, Brad "Brooklyn" Shaw urged me to research and recreate a contemporary scorebook for the Neshanock. The end product was a replica of Henry Chadwick's 1868 book which has served us well. I've come to realize though that as a reporter, Chadwick needed far more information than a team does. Since we need a new scorebook for 2023, I went back to the sources to look more closely at what the teams themselves used. There were a few possibilities, but in the end, the book or scoresheet used by the Hamilton Club of Jersey City (1857-1860) not only meets our needs, but also provides some flexibility unavailable in Chadwick's version. Special thanks to John Beekman and the Jersey City Public Library for sharing the original. Coincidentally, some other vintage clubs have expressed interest so the new version may be available to other teams as well.
So while there's been a break from fielding a team, planning batting orders and defensive rotations, not to mention traveling hither and yon almost every weekend, there's been no shortage of Neshanock related work. Baseball history research also continues including a second look at early baseball in New Jersey that should produce some 2023 blog content. As always there are far more interesting topics than there are days (and nights) to work on, but that's better than the alternative. I'm not sure exactly when the first 2023 post will appear, but in the interim best wishes to everyone for the holidays and all of next year. And above all, thank you for taking the time to read this blog.