Vintage Base Ball Game will show how the game was played back in 1860

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News
Boonville will host a 1860 Baseball Game on Saturday, May 1 at Twillman field in Harley park, starting at 1 p.m. The St. Louis Browns Stockings will play the Topeka Westerns in a doubleheader, featuring players dressed up in 1860 style uniforms.
A player for the St. Louis Browns Stockings attempts to catch a ball during an 1860 Baseball Game. The St. Louis Browns Stockings will play the Topeka Westerns in an Old Timers Game Saturday, May 1 at Twillman field in Harley park, starting at 1 p.m.

Baseball the way it used to be played back in 1860 will take center stage at Twillman field in Harley park on Saturday, May 1 as the St. Louis Browns Stockings battle the Topeka Westerns in a doubleheader.

Sponsored by the Boonville Chamber of Commerce, Denise Greis-Solomon said the 1860 Baseball Game is two years in the making and first came about when the Boonville 9-year-old All-Stars played in the World Series in 2019. “There’s a lot that goes into kids playing in a state, regional or even a World Series and we thought this would help with the expense,” Greis said. “The proceeds will go to the Cooper County Baseball Association to help with the help of traveling for these teams. I think these ball teams play regularly within the weeks and have different ball teams, and I think it’s great that they have the love of the game. I hope the young kids can see that when they see him play the game.”

The first pitch is scheduled to take place at 1 p.m.  The second game will follow at approximately 2:30 p.m. Both games will be seven innings each.

Greis-Solomon said the Boonville Pirates Booster Club has also agreed to cook during the game with half of the proceeds to go toward the COCOBA and half back to the athletic department at Boonville High School.

The admission is 50 cents per person for the doubleheader. 

Greis-Solomon said the rules of the 1860 baseball game will also be different. With players in old-time uniforms, Greis-Solomon said additional rules have been added to ensure conformity to the customs and practices of the game such as:

Striker is “dead” when swinging and missing three times; or when his struck ball is caught on the fly or on one bound, fair or foul; of when he if forced at first base. No “balls” or “walks” or “called strikes”. Foul balls do not count as strikes. Balls are considered fair or foul by where they first bounce.

Sliding and stealing were not uniformly practiced in 1860 and so will not be allowed at the matches.

Runners may not advance on a caught ball without first tagging up. If the ball is caught on the fly, runners may tag up. If the ball is caught on one bound, runners may advance at their own risk.

Fielders at this time did not use gloves, and evidence shows that base tenders played close to their bases and outfield scouts played straight away in their fields.

Play is undertaken for exercise, fresh air, fellowships, and the glory of the game; winning and losing are secondary. Players make every effort not to physically injure or impugn the honor of opponents. Specifically, the following are not tolerated: arguing with the umpire, or anyone else; swearing, spitting, sweating (rule often waived on warm days); insulting umpires or opponents. The umpire may fine players (or spectators) a day’s wages (25 cents) for any unseemly conduct.

The rules of baseball were first standardized in 1845 by the New York Knickerbockers. However, the rules evolved throughout the 19th century.

The vintage terminology is also different compared to today’s baseball. The following is vintage terminology: Huzzah!-Hooray; Club Nine-Team; Match-Game; Ballist-Player; Cranks-Fans/spectators; Judge-Umpire; Pitcher-Pitcher; Catcher-Behind; Scorekeeper-Tallykeeper; Horseshide, onion-Ball; Willow-Bat; Striker-Hitter; Striker to the line-Batter up; Dish-Home plate; Four baser-Homerun; Aces/Tallys-Run; Hurl-Throw/pitch; Foul tick-Foul ball; Player dead-Out; Muff-Error; Leg it-Run to base; Show a little ginger-Play harder; Stir your stumps-Run fast/hustle.

As for the two teams playing in Saturday’s doubleheader, the St. Louis Browns Stockings were established in 2010. Today’s St. Louis Brown Stockings are part of the Greater Saint Louis Base Ball Historical Society (GSLBBHS).

The GSLBBHS consists of three local teams: The St. Louis Perfectos, the Lafayette Cyclone BBC, and the Brown Stockings. All team play by the 1860 Base Ball Rules and stay true to the roost of the game by demonstrating gentlemanly behavior and fair play, all the while exhibiting a true love of the game.

Veteran Vintage Ballist Tony “Lightning” Wicker started the Brown Stockings to help spread the great game of Vintage Base Ball to the West County (Saint Louis) area.

The Brown Stockings play their home games at Emmenegger Nature Park in Kirkwood. They play two seven inning matches and can be found on select Saturday’s and Sunday’s starting in early April.

The Topeka Westerns Base Ball Club is dedicated to the preservation of the game as it was intended. Although the Westerns were established in 1869, the team observes the rules of 1860 with slight variations as was common in the development of the game.

The Westerns Base Ball Club of Topeka (KS) was formed to educate and entertain as the team recreates the game of base ball as it was played in its early years. The original Westerns team had rivals in Ottawa, Emporia, Wichita, and Lawrence. The modern club competes with clubs from Wichita and Emporia as well as teams from throughout the Midwest and plays by the rules from 1860 and 1869. With the growth of the club and interest in more home games, the Shawnees Base Ball Club was formed and represents another early Topeka team that played at the same time as the Westerns. The two teams play from April through October and are always looking for new opportunities to share the game they love with local groups throughout Kansas or teams from out of state.

The Topeka Westerns play their home games at Lake Shawnee in the field just west of the Ted Ensley Gardens.

Greis-Solomon said this is going to be a fun event. “Boonville is such a baseball town, and I think this will draw a lot of spark and interest and people are curious,” Greis-Solomon said. “They're going to want to come see it and maybe learn a bit about how the game was played back in the 1860s. Harley park was formed around the same time so I think that was kind of nostalgic, too.”