inexperienced rooter, would appear a Muffin; but the hurler knows better.
He considers his options: should he toss a dew drop for an easy pop or
send one fast and hard to his behind for his gardeners?
He hurls it against the timber.
Its a cloud hunter, sailing to the garden wherethe hurler is thankful to
seea ready stonewall extend his hands.
Leg it! Leg it! the strikers coots yell.
Is it a foul tick? An ace? A daisy cutter?
See for yourself at the Kilwins Fudge Bucket Classic Vintage Base Ball
Tournament, on August 6, featuring the rules, customs, lingo and uniforms
from the sport as it was played during the 1860s. Hosted by the Petoskey
Mossback Vintage Base Ball Club, the all-day event will take place
Like most sports today, baseball has been an evolutionary game a bat and
ball activity with no exact date of origin. However, todays version can
best be traced to 1845 when Alexander Cartwright and a group of other
young professionals formed the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club. The group
fashioned a standard set of rules and physical boundaries for the game
(such as foul territory and base distance), modeled much like the game of
By 1850, more than a dozen base ball teams had formed in New York City and
by 1858, the National Association of Base-Ball Players was established.
It wouldnt be until the mid 1980s that America would bring back the 19th
century game. This year marks just the third season for the Mossbacks
(named after the Civil War-era homebuilders who placed moss on their
roofs), but the roster of 15 menwith ages ranging from early 20s to late
50salready has a long waiting list of locals wanting to get in on the
I think it fills a recreational niche, says Mossbacks co-captain, Matt
Berger. Its pretty laid back and although we like to win, its all about
A good time usually includes plenty of old fashion jabbing.
But its also considered a gentlemens game, says Berger. The empire
can fine you at any time, up to a quarter, and make you apologize to the
The Mossbacks once owed 75 cents during a game.
We call the other team milk boys, muffin or well say go throw on a
skirt if some guy catches a ball off the ground rather than in the air,
laughs Berger, noting this form of base ball doesnt use gloves, rather a
player must catch with his bare hands.
We have a lot of broken fingers, adds Berger. We have one guy nicknamed
Brittle Fingers. He broke two fingers on his left hand last year and one
on his right this season.
Nicknames are important, says Berger (a.k.a. Skip) everybody has one. A
few Mossback names include Little T, The Count, Geezer, Einsteinnot
because hes brilliant, Berger laughsSkillet Licker and Calvin & Hobbs
(two brothers on the team).
A DIFFERENT KIND OF GAME
Other differences between todays baseball and 19th century base ball
(yes, spelled with two words prior to 1880) include the following: both
fair or foul balls caught off one bounce are considered out; balls that
bounce once in front of home plate before spinning into foul territory are
considered fair; and the pitchers primary job, aside from throwing the
ball underhand, is to simply put the ball into play.
And while the base-to-base dimensions have always been 90 feet apart, the
playing area can be anywhere from a standard diamond to a farmers field.
The rougher, the better, says Berger. If theres a cow or an outhouse
or a tree or whatever, you just play around it. Its the closest thing to
sandlot baseball as a kid.
The Kilwins Fudge Bucket Classic Vintage Base Ball Tournament will take
place at in Petoskey, on August 6. The winning team receives a bucket
ofyou guessed itKilwins fudge. Opening ceremonies start at 10 a.m. in
Pennsylvania Park with the first round of games as follows: Regulars of
Mount Clemens versus the Rochester Grangers at Bay View, 11:30 a.m.;
Petoskey Mossbacks versus Kent City Base Ball Club at Petoskey Winter
Sports Park, 11:30 a.m. The event is free and open to the public. Visit
wix.com/mossback/baseballclub for more info.