Sunday, September 12, 2021

Camden Town (Ball)

After playing outside the state in August, the Neshanock returned to New Jersey on Saturday for a match in Camden, just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.  The game with the Athletic Club of Philadelphia was a late addition to the schedule, to support the Camden Historical Society's reopening which included some new exhibits including one on the Negro Leagues.  We were glad to be part of this event which couldn't have taken place on a nicer day.  The Athletics went first to the striker's line and quickly put their first two men on base.   Unfortunately for the Philadelphia club, the next striker hit a pop fly to Neshanock pitcher Dan "Sledge" Hammer which allowed Flemington to take advantage of the lack of an infield fly rule in 1864.  After letting the ball bounce twice, "Sledge" threw to Joe "Mick" Murray at third for one out and "Mick" completed the double play by throwing to Chris "Low Ball" Lowry at second.  Flemington retired the next batter and, after a promising start, the Athletics failed to tally in the top of the first.


Chris "Sideshow" Nunn catches a pitch while Carol Zinn (far right) looks on.  All color photos by Mark "Gaslight" Granieri

When the Neshanock came to the striker's line, it didn't take long to see it was going to be a big day for the Flemington offense.  Fourteen men came to bat and when the dust cleared, Flemington had tallied nine times.  In the end the offensive output proved to be not just productive, but historic as Flemington's 49 runs shattered the previous high of 35 set on two occasions at the Gettysburg Festival.  Such offensive outbursts may seem unusual today, but there is no lack of historical precedent such as the below box score of an 1860s game where the original Athletics Club more than doubled the Neshanock's 2021 output. Needless to say there was no shortage of good individual performance beginning with "Sledge" who had a seven hit clear score including two home runs in the same inning doubtless also a Flemington record.  "Sledge" also scored all seven times he reached base producing what for the lack of a better term we're calling an immaculate clear score.  Not far behind were Tom "Thumbs" Hoepfner and Jim "Jersey" Nunn with six hits apiece while Chris "Sideshow" Nunn, Danny "Lefty" Gallagher, Rene "Mango" Marrero, Mark "Gaslight" Granieri and Tom "Hawk" Prioli chipped in five hits apiece.  


"Lefty's" day included two home runs, combining for back-to-back circuit shots with "Sledge" in the fourth. "Lefty" also hit for the cycle, that is hitting, a single, double, triple and home run in the same game, not necessarily in that order. Like runs-batted-in, the term wasn't used in the 1860s, but we'll make an exception in this case.  "Hawk's" performance earned him Flemington's second clear score of the day.  Also contributing were "Mick" and "Low Ball" with four hit games while Jeff "Duke" Schneider and Rob Colon had three hits each.  It was Rob's first game with the Neshanock and we hope he will become a regular member of the club.  The 49-5 victory brings Flemington's overall record to 13-9 with just one date left to play.  Originally the Neshanock were to make their annual visit to historic Cameron Field in South Orange on Saturday, September 18th, but flood damage from tropical storm Ida has forced the cancellation of the game.  As a result, Flemington will bring down the curtain on the 2021 season on Saturday, September 25th at the Dey Farm in Monroe Township against the Liberty Club of New Brunswick.   


Rene "Mango" Marrero pitches while Jeff "Duke" Schneider looks on with anticipation

Playing Saturday's game by 1864 rules was appropriate since Camden's first base ball team got started that same year almost a decade after the first New Jersey teams took the field.  While that may seem on the late side, it wasn't because local youth had an aversion to bat and ball games.  Rather, it was because teams in neighboring Philadelphia played a very different game known today as Philadelphia town ball.  Town ball is a catch-all term used to describe a wide range of bat and ball games that aren't base ball.  Fortunately, thanks to a critical mass of surviving source material and the work of historian Richard Hershberger, the game played in the City of Brotherly Love is understood well enough to be identified as the Philadelphia version of town ball.  Back in 2014, as part of the Gettysburg Festival, the Athletic Club (Saturday's opponent) recreated the game which is vastly different from base ball.  Just a few of the differences include no foul territory, eleven on a side and bases in a circle about 20 feet apart.


Dan "Sledge" Hammer about to strike one of his seven hits while Tom "Thumbs" Hoepfner waits his turn at the line.

As significant as these differences are, they pale in comparison with Philadelphia town ball's most distinctive feature.  Every at bat has only two possible outcomes - a home run or an out.  Young men in Philadelphia organized town ball clubs in the early 1830s and it's no surprise the game gradually moved across the Delaware River, leading to the formation of the Camden Club in 1857.  Camden, however, didn't become the Hoboken of Philadelphia town ball.  Comprehensive research in contemporary south Jersey newspapers has failed to uncover a single instance of another club other than the Camden team.  Part of the failure of the Philadelphia game to spread is the southern part of the state lacked the population density and mobile society of north Jersey that greatly facilitated the spread of base ball north of Trenton.  But having watched Philadelphia town ball being played, it seems to me that there was another major factor - there's not a lot of strategy to a game where each at bat has only two possible outcomes and, therefore, not much reason to be interested in the game.  Baseball, on the other hand, has so many possibilities that the strategic alternatives sometimes seem unlimited.


Camden's Weston Fisler as a member of the Athletic Club of Philadelphia

It's no surprise, therefore, that in the early 1860s, the Philadelphia clubs gradually converted to base ball, followed by the Camden Club in 1864.  The Camden players, or at least one of them, Weston Fisler, adapted relatively quickly.  After starting with the Camden Club, Fisler joined the Athletic Club of Philadelphia when it was one of the top teams of the 1860s.  He stayed with the Athletics throughout their years in the National Association and then as a charter member of the National League in 1876.  Fishler complied a .310 lifetime batting average in the two professional leagues while earning the nickname "Icicle," because he was so "cool and collected" in all circumstances.  In his last season the Camden product not only played in the first National League game, he has the distinction of scoring the first earned run in league history.  Clearly playing another, very different game first, didn't hold Fisler back from being the first, but certainly not the last, New Jersey player to enjoy success at the professional level.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Weekend in Rochester

While the Neshanock didn't have great depth on the field at the National Silver Ball tournament, there was no shortage of talent behind the camera.  What follows is a photographic essay on the games at Genesee Country Village and Museum, courtesy of Lauren Marchese Nunn Optimum Photography - all rights reserved.  Click on the photos to enlarge.

With the bat rack in place, the stage is set for the 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning contest with the Live Oak Club


Tom "Thumbs" Hoepfner prepares for his turn at strikers line


Dave "Illinois" Harris strikes 


and Jim "Jersey" Nunn runs


while Danny "Lefty" Gallagher sprints.


Brad "Brooklyn" Shaw literally puts bat on ball against the Spring Creek Club


Dan "Sledge" Hammer's throw forces a Spring Creek runner at second


Jeff "Duke" Schneider contemplates a fair/foul attempt


Chris "Sideshow" Nunn scores on a close play at home against the Victory BBC


One of vintage baseball's most entertaining moments - Mark "Gaslight" Granieri on the base paths


After another blank score, the Neshanock defense leaves the field, left to right - "Sideshow, "Thumbs," "Lefty" and Gregg "Burner" Wiseburn


Early Sunday morning - "Gaslight" strikes against the Flower City Club


Chris "Low Ball" Lowry at the striker's line


Old men on the Neshanock bench - "for wisdom cries out in the streets and no man regards it."


Charlie Hoepfner leads the Neshanock in "Three cheers and a tiger."


One last time together after a truly splendiferous weekend


Monday, August 23, 2021

"Their Appointed Rounds"

While its traditionally mail carriers who refuse to let snow, heat or gloom of night prevent the "swift completion of their appointed rounds," it's fair to say they had nothing on the hardy band of Neshanock and spouses who traveled to Newark, Delaware on Sunday.  Not only were a majority of the group still recovering from the National Silver Ball Tournament in Rochester, they also made their way through the vestiges of tropical storm Henri just to get to Paper Mill Park, the site of two seven inning matches with our friends, the Diamond State Club of Delaware.   Fortunately, the storm had pretty much passed by Delaware and by the time the first pitch was thrown just after noon, the rain was limited to a few brief showers. I believe the Neshanock and Diamond State first met in 2010 as part of the inaugural Gettysburg 19th Century Base Ball Festival on an incredibly hot day even for Gettysburg.  Since then we've had a number of memorable matches with this fine team which won the National Silver Ball tournament in 2018.


All photos courtesy of Lauren Marchese Nunn Optimum Photography

In the first game, Diamond State went first to the striker's line and quickly pushed two tallies across the plate.  Flemington got one back in the bottom of the first, but the Delaware team scored twice more in the third and led 4-1.  Thanks to a clutch two-out single by Tom "Thumbs" Hoepfner in the bottom of the inning, however, the Neshanock tallied twice to stay within one.  After setting down Delaware in order in the top of the fourth, the Neshanock offense erupted in their next at bat, tallying seven times to take a 10-4 lead.  Flemington added two insurance runs and played solid defense to keep Diamond State off the scoreboard the rest of the way for a 12-4 Flemington win.  Chris "Sideshow" Nunn led the Neshanock offense with three hits followed by Jeff" Duke" Schneider, Joe "Mick" Murray and Nick Mendell with two apiece.  The Neshanock were glad to have Nick Mendell back with us and hope he has a quick recovery from the leg injury he suffered in the second game.  


Getting ready for the first game

After a brief break, the second game got underway with Flemington striking first.  The Neshanock offense stayed hot, tallying 13 times in their first four at bats for an early 13-2 advantage. Once again, Flemington played solid defense, keeping Diamond State off the scoreboard for the last four innings of an 18-2 Neshanock win.  Chris "Low Ball" Lowry who shared the pitching duties with Rene "Mango" Marrero in the first game handled most of the load in the second contest.  Jim "Jersey" Nunn led the offense in the second game with four hits, losing a clear score in his last time at the striker's line.  "Duke," "Thumbs" and "Mick" each had three hits while "Mango" had two.  After racking up 14 hits in the first contest, Flemington added 20 in the second game - 34 hits for the day - all singles.  Also contributing in his own unique way was Ken "Tumbles" Mandel.   This Saturday, the Neshanock will play their final 2021 game outside of New Jersey, a visit to the Hecklerfest in Lower Salford, Pennsylvania to take on the Brandywine Club.



Vintage base ball at it's most memorable - Ken "Tumbles" Mandel at the striker's line

Since Flemington was ahead when Diamond State was retired in the top of the seventh of the first game, the Neshanock didn't bat in the bottom of the inning.  That's no great surprise under modern rules, but it's contrary to the rules of the 1860s.  We were reminded of that last weekend in Rochester where in similar situations, the bottom of the last inning would have been played unless the Neshanock waived their last at bat, which we did.  Playing an equal number of innings is a concept that dates back to the early days of organized base ball.  Back in 1845, the Knickerbocker Club of New York played a game that was won by the first team to score 21 runs, but with the stipulation that an equal number of outs and, therefore, innings had to be played.  While it's impossible to know with certainty why the rule was so important as to be put in writing, the answer probably is because the Knickerbocker's played the game for its own sake rather than to win.  


Tom "Thumbs" Hoepfner runs out one of the Neshanock's 34 singles

Based on information on the invaluable Protoball web site (www.protoball.org), from 1845 through 1850, the Knickerbockers played 223 games, only one of which, at most, was a match game.  On all of the other occasions, the club members divided up into two teams and played games that had no lasting significance because the teams changed almost every game.  If, say, 110 of those games ended with the winning team batting second, the players would have lost out on playing the equivalent of just over 12 games - something likely more important to them than the time saved from skipping an inning with no impact on the game.  As competing against other teams became the order of the day, the emphasis switched with winning a greater priority than playing and finally in 1880 the rules were amended to eliminate the requirement to play the bottom of the inning.  Possibly it may have been changed in practice before that.


Catcher Chris "Sideshow" Nunn and the striker wait for Chris "Lowball" Lowry's pitch to come down

In a post a few weeks ago, I suggested that over the past 100 years, something of value has been lost by the decline in direct participation in baseball.  At first glance, not playing even a half-inning for its own sake, might seem to be in the same category.  The great thing about baseball, however, is that there are other ways to preserve traditional values and Sunday's games are a case in point.  Vintage base ball games are played for at least three reasons.  Some are highly competitive like those played at the National Silver Ball tournament and there's nothing wrong with that.  Others are played as part of events, like this coming weekend in Pennsylvania which, while the teams try to win, are intended to illustrate/teach how the game used to be played.  Sunday's games in Delaware, however, were neither part of a tournament nor intended to show a crowd of newcomers about 19th century baseball.  Why then did the two teams, under less than perfect traveling and playing conditions make the effort?  We played for the game's sake, the importance of which should never be forgotten.


      

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

"Go we to the Village"

While it's generally not a good idea for an historian to express an opinion without backup data, I'll risk it this time in saying that vintage base ball has grown considerably since 2010 when I first became involved with the Neshanock.  Not only are there more players and teams, there are far more events and tournaments throughout the country.  Almost every week during the summer, social media brings word of an upcoming event with multiple teams including some like the Gettysburg festival that attract teams from far and wide.  These events break down into two categories - festivals and tournaments, the difference being that tournaments produce a champion while festivals do not.  It's probably fair to say that festivals are more popular probably because they are easier for the sponsors to run, allow participants to better plan their travel and, perhaps most important of all, avoid the hard feelings that competition for a championship can produce.  


Dave "Illinois" Harris strikes well against Live Oak (the gazebo is out of play)

Even so, there's something to be said for championship competition like the Neshanock experienced this past weekend at Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford, New York about 20 miles south of Rochester (and a long way from New Jersey).   Five local teams call GCV&M home and each August they take on teams from across the United States (and Canada) in the National Silver Ball tournament.  One of the challenges of hosting a tournament is figuring out an appropriate format that allows the visiting teams to play enough games to justify the trip and plan their travel.  GCV&M's solution to the problem is a structure similar to that used in the World Cup Soccer tournament.  Rather than use a single or double elimination approach with the defeated teams going into a loser's bracket, each team in the Silver Ball tournament plays four games with the two teams with the best record advancing to the championship game.  Needless to say tie-breakers are necessary and for this year's version they were head-to-head competition, runs allowed and then a coin toss.  


Unless otherwise noted all pictures are by Mark "Gaslight" Granieri

After long car rides on Friday from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the Neshanock settled in for their fifth visit to GCV&M since 2010.   In 2010, a Flemington team that had only won seven games all season, got hot and made it to the championship game before losing to the Cleveland Blues.  Two years later, with it's strongest team ever at the tournament, the Neshanock made the championship game by handing Cleveland it's first loss at GCV&M.  Ironically the championship game was rained out (ironic because it was Flemington's only rainout of the season) and the Neshanock shared the title with Talbot Fair Play Club from Maryland.  On their next two visits, Flemington didn't make the final game, but still enjoyed playing at one of the nicest venues in vintage base ball.  Base ball at GCV&M is played by 1868 rules, the biggest difference being the requirement for fair balls to be caught on the fly, something the Neshanock are very used to.  The ground rules adopted for the festival, however, are quite different for Flemington, especially no sliding or  stealing and lead limits of one-two steps.  


Jeff "Duke" Schneider pushing the lead restriction

Saturday morning, bright and early (well at least early), the Neshanock were on the field at the Grand Meadow for a 9:00 match with the Live Oak Club, the first of four contests with village teams.  Flemington held the home team to just one run over the first three innings, but was unable tally in its own turns at the striker's line.  Live Oak put four runs across in their half of the fourth and led 5-0 going to the bottom of the fifth when the Neshanock tallied three times.  The rally cut the gap to two, but Live Oak immediately responded with four runs in the top of the sixth, for a six run lead.  The Neshanock weren't done, however, scoring twice in the bottom of the inning and adding one in the seventh to make it a 9 to 6 game headed to the eighth.  However, the home team also wasn't done, scoring twice in the top of the eighth for an 11-6 lead as the Neshanock came to the line for the last time.  Although Flemington scored one run and had runners on with two out, it was not to be and Live Oak finished off a well earned 11-7 win.  Offensively, the Neshanock were led by Tom "Thumbs" Hoepfner and Chris "Low Ball" Lowry with three hits apiece while Jeff "Duke" Schneider and Dan "Lefty" Gallagher had two each.  


Neshanock bench before the Spring Creek game - note the corn in the background

With the first game complete, the Neshanock took a two hour break before a 1:00 match against the Spring Creek Club, the first time Flemington has played this local team.  The match took place in the Silver Park, the first replica 19th century ball park ever built in the United States which just celebrated its 20th anniversary.  Flemington took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second, but aided by some Neshanock muffs, Spring Creek rallied for three and led 3-1 going to the bottom of the third.  However, Flemington put on its own rally in the bottom of the inning, using four straight hits to tally four times and a 5-3 lead.  Spring Creek got one back in its half of the fourth and could have had a lot more, but for Dave "Illinois" Harris' two stellar catches of long throws from Chris "Side Show" Nunn and Gregg "Burner" Wiseburn.  Inspired by its resurgent defense, Flemington tallied twice in the fourth and fifth innings and led 9-7 headed to the top of the ninth.  


Danny "Lefty" Gallagher at the striker's line while Dan "Sledge" Hammer (right) and Tom "Thumbs" Hoepfner wait their turn

No one was comfortable on the Neshanock bench and the stress level increased dramatically when the first Spring Creek striker singled.  As noted earlier, games at GCV&M are played under unusual ground rules including limiting leads off a base.  That rule now haunted the local team when the second batter hit a fly ball to "Side Show" in center field who briefly bobbled the ball, presenting the runner with a difficult choice.  If the ball hit the ground, he would be easily forced out at second, but if he tried to advance, he risked being doubled off first, if "Side Show" held the ball as indeed he did.  Unfortunately for the home team, the runner chose incorrectly and was doubled off by "Side Show's" throw and another fine catch by "Illinois."  With two out and none on, things were looking brighter, but the next two Spring Creek strikers singled putting the tying runs on base.  The next striker hit a hard single to left field where the limited lead rule again bit the local team since "Lefty" had plenty of time to fire a bullet throw to "Burner" at third for the final out.  It was the Neshanock's best win thus far in the 2021 season.  "Thumbs" again led the Neshanock offense with three hits, losing a clear score in his last at bat.  "Side Show," Lefty" and Dan "Sledge" Hammer had two apiece and every Neshanock striker had at least one hit.   


Brad "Brooklyn" Shaw pitching against Spring Creek at the Silver Ball Park

Having played two hard fought games, one might have thought the Neshanock were done for the day, but the Silver Ball tournament gives clubs the rare opportunity to play three games in one day.  If nothing else that gave the Neshanock a chance to experience something that has happened only three times in major league history - playing in a tripleheader.  Just getting to the third game required some effort as the scene shifted back to the Great Meadow for a match with the Victory Base Ball Club.  After the Victory Club tallied once in their first at bat, Flemington struck not only quickly, but well, tallying five times and then adding four more in the the second for a commanding 9-1 lead.  Strong Flemington defense shut out the local team the rest of the way and the Neshanock broke the game open in the bottom of the sixth with an eight run inning.  The final count was 23-1, an offensive outburst that saw "Sideshow," "Lefty" and "Burner" record five hits apiece.  Not far behind were "Sledge" and "Low Ball" with four each while "Duke" and "Thumbs" (once again) had three each.  Flemington again took advantage of the short lead rule with both "Lefty" and "Duke" recording assists from the outfield.


Flemington's best game of the 2021 season

With day one and three games in the books, Flemington was 2-1 and in good position in the tie breaker category having allowed only 19 runs thus far.  It wasn't, however, until the Neshanock arrived at the Great Meadow on Sunday morning (once again bright and early) that we realized that the winner of our match with the undefeated Flower City was headed for the championship game.  Thus inspired, the Neshanock struck quickly, parleying six straight hits into four runs and then set the local team down without a tally in the bottom of the first.  When Flemington added another run in the top of the second, things were looking good, but the bubble burst quickly when Flower City added by some untimely Neshanock muffs (there is never a timely muff) tallied six times to take a lead they would not relinquish.  


Neshanock team picture by Doreen (Mrs. Illinois) Harris

Flemington had one rally left, scoring four times in the fifth to come within one run, but Flower City more than answered with six in their half of the inning for a 16-9 lead as they coasted to a 25-10 win.  The game anticipated the championship game where Cleveland led Flower City 9-0 going to the bottom of the fourth before the local team erupted for 15 runs on the way to a 23-13 win.   "Side Show" and "Lefty" each had four hits, but even more impressively both recorded clear scores, the only ones the Neshanock had in the tournament.  "Thumbs" again contributed three hits while "Illinois" and "Gaslight" had two apiece. "Gaslight," as usual, distinguished himself behind the plate (and with his camera), catching almost every inning of the four games.  Brad "Brooklyn" Shaw took on a major share of the pitching duties and, as at Gettysburg, it was a pleasure to have him back with us.  A special word of thanks and appreciation also to all of our family members who made the long trip to cheer on the Neshanock. Genesee Country Village is one of the best vintage base ball venues in the country and the Neshanock were privileged to once again be part of this fine event. We hope to return in the future.



Sunday, August 1, 2021

"The Boy's Rule"

Base ball in the 19th century had a number of rituals, some of which are replicated by today's vintage clubs.  One recreated almost without exception is post game speeches by both captains, followed by cheers from the respective teams.  Some years ago, Neshanock founder Brad "Brooklyn" Shaw introduced an interactive approach to Flemington's post game speech, highlighting one of his favorite words in the process.  Looking at his team lined up along the base line, the Neshanock spokesman calls out "On this," to which the players respond "most splendiferous day for base ball."  It may be an acquired taste, but the audience seems to appreciate the word "splendiferous" which is, in fact, a real word, meaning splendid or wonderful.  Of all the times, the Neshanock have used this line, Saturday at Rahway River Park may have been the most literally "splendiferous day for base ball." Not only was the sun bright in a pristine blue sky, the temperatures were unseasonably moderate for late July.  It was a fine day, therefore for the final meeting of the season between the Neshanock and the Elizabeth Resolutes, the latest chapter in New Jersey's oldest vintage base ball rivalry. 


William Cauldwell

After Elizabeth tallied twice in the top of the first,  the Neshanock quickly responded when Brian "Spoons" LoPinto, in his first at bat of the season, doubled in two runs to tie the score at 2-2.  Unfortunately, the Neshanock didn't cross home plate again for the next five innings as strong Resolute pitching and defense countered any Flemington threats.  Meanwhile the Elizabeth team added two in the third and appeared to break the game open taking a 10-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh. The Neshanock were not finished, however, erupting for five tallies to close to 10-7.  Elizabeth got three back in the top of the eighth, but Flemington tallied four times to make it a two run game with one inning to play.  After blanking the Resolutes in the top of the ninth, the Neshanock had a chance, but Elizabeth retired the side for a well earned 13-11 victory.  It was a quiet offensive day for the Neshanock, led by Jeff "Duke" Schneider with three hits and "Spoons" with two, but after that Flemington only had four more hits.  The Neshanock were especially glad to welcome back Joe "San Antonio" Burger who filled in admirably when Flemington was initially short handed.  After taking next weekend off, the Neshanock travel to Genesee Country Village near Rochester, New York on August 14-15 for the National Silver Ball Tournament.  


All game pictures courtesy of Mark Granieri

While I've never seen any statistics, it seems fair to say that most vintage base ball teams play by 1864 rules.  There are, of course, some exceptions, the upcoming National Silver Ball Tournament will use 1868 rules and there are some clubs who play by late 19th century rules, perhaps most notably the Providence Grays.  In New Jersey, the Liberty Club of New Brunswick plays some games by the rules of the year they were founded (1858) and, of course, the Resolutes, the state's senior club, go by the 1870 rulebook.  While the degree of difference can vary, perhaps the biggest variation are post 1864 rules because of the elimination of the fair bound out, requiring putouts on fair batted balls to be made by catching the ball in the air. The foul bound out hung around much later before being eliminated in the 1880s.  The elimination of the fair bound out makes for a very different game which may explain why although the change was first proposed in 1857, it wasn't approved until the December 14, 1864 meeting of the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP), a loose confederation of base ball clubs.


Tom "Hawk" Prioli leads of third

Considering how long it took, it's not surprising as Richard Hershberger points out in his essential book, Strike Four: The Evolution of Baseball, that the fly/bound debate was "the most contentious rules argument in the history of the game."  Interestingly each side of the argument had a supporter not only with a strong opinion, but a pulpit to promote his position. Strongly for the elimination of the fair bound out was Henry Chadwick, the Father of Baseball himself. Chadwick used his platform in the New York Clipper and Brooklyn Daily Eagle to argue the change was necessary to maintain the manliness of the game.  On the other side was William Cauldwell, who although not well remembered today, was the first newspaper man to regularly cover and promote baseball through the New York Sunday Mercury.  One of Cauldwell's arguments for maintaining the fair bound out was that the game would lose the athletic (and presumably manly) diving attempts to come up with a ball on the bounce.  Anyone with experience at vintage base ball will agree that the bound rule adds that feature to the game.


Resolute captain Craig Combs pitches while Joe "Mick" Murray leads off first

With such strongly held opinions, it's no surprise the debate got more than a little heated.  After the proposal to eliminate the bound out was defeated twice in 1860, the Clipper, most likely Chadwick said there was growing "animus" over the issue.  And even the gentlemanly Chadwick wasn't above the battle, lowering himself to unmanly verbiage by demeaning the December 1860 defeat as victory for "the boy's rule."  For shame, Mr. Chadwick!  Time, however, was on the side of the fly game and after a narrow 25-22 defeat in 1863, the following year saw a decisive 32-19 vote for the change.  Interestingly by that point, both Chadwick and Cauldwell had somewhat softened their positions with Chadwick admitting there were some advantages to the bound catch. Especially relevant, however, was Cauldwell's observation that continuing the bound out meant a dozen or so "unworthy catches per game."  In over a decade of watching 1864 base ball, I don't recall any game with that many "unworthy" or unmanly bound catches,  but the potential for abuse is there.  Personally, at the vintage level, I prefer the bound game, but for base ball to grow and develop as it has, the change had to be made.  


Sunday, July 25, 2021

The Neshanock at Gettysburg

One of the many benefits of the Gettysburg 19th Century Base Ball Festival is that it enables official blog photographer Mark "Gaslight" Granieri to exercise the full range of his legendary creativity.  What follows are pictures of the Neshanock players more or less in their positions in the striking order.  Other than the two black and white photos, all pictures are courtesy of "Gaslight."


Neshanock "bench" during Sunday's first game


Danny "Lefty" Gallagher


Dan "Sledge" Hammer


Tom "Thumbs" Hoepfner


Mark "Gaslight" Granieri with "Illinois" on deck


Dave "Illinois" Harris


Rene "Mango" Marrero


Jeff "Duke" Schneider


Jim "Jersey" Nunn


Joe "Mick" Murray


Gregg "Burner" Wiseburn


Chris "Sideshow" Nunn


Brad "Brooklyn" Shaw


Andy "Muffin" Zall


Ken "Tumbles" Mandel