OK, we love the Tigers and hope this is their year for the World Series. But did you know the Tigers aren’t the only ball club in town?
The players, who are sometimes called ballists, wear period reproduction uniforms and play the game based on rules used in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. In fact, vintage base ball clubs will often play by 1884 rules, the last year of side arm pitching or 1886 rules, for overhand pitching. 1886 is also the first year a pitcher could deliver the ball with one foot off the ground.
You can watch at all at the Vintage Base Ball Opening Day on Sunday, May 3 when the Detroit River Belles take on their brother team, the Early Risers, in a friendly match, at Navin Field (former Tiger Stadium located at the corner of Trumbull and Michigan Avenue in Historic Corktown). The game starts at 2:00 PM.
It should be great fun judging from these pictures from their Facebook pages.
Both teams are based at historic Fort Wayne. The Early Risers have been there for several years. The Detroit River Belles, Michigan’s first all-ladies vintage base ball club, came in 2014. They compete with other ladies’ and men’s clubs around the Midwest to promote the history and love for America’s national past time.
The Early Risers took their name from a ball club that existed from 1859 to the beginning of the Civil War, when several players joined the Union army. Since the original Early Risers had day jobs they couldn’t join the Detroit Base Ball Club, which held its practices on weekday afternoons. So they formed their own club and practiced at the crack of dawn at Campus Martius, where they also became known for breaking windows. The Early Risers played in the “first match game ever played in Michigan” against the Detroit Base Ball Club on August 8, 1859.
“Though the present-day Early Risers do not actually rise quite so early, they do enthusiastically honor and pay tribute to the gentlemanly spirit of their namesake,” their Facebook says. “It is also likely that players from that original club walked on our home field as they passed through Fort Wayne after enlisting in the army.”
For more information on events at historic Fort Wayne click here.
Please read the story Detroit Unspun did about the Detroit River Belles last year.