For almost twenty years, the Colorado Vintage Base Ball Association has been teaching history by reenacting it. The non-profit puts together workshops and what it calls "performances" that represent the sport as it existed in the mid-1800s, when it was known as "base ball." Wearing nineteenth-century uniforms and using vintage gear, clubs (known to modern-day spectators as teams) abide by the old-school rules of the game -- or the match, rather.
On Saturday, May 19, the Parker Area Historical Society's club will go up against the CVBBA to play a full-fledged match, one that is more about historical accuracy than competition.
"We do a Civil War reenactment once a year, so we wanted to put on similar annual event," says Neal Smith, who is on the board of the Parker Area Historical Society and is also a vintage base "ballist." This second annual baseball celebration aims to bring all ages out to learn more about Parker's history, as well as the origins of America's favorite pastime.
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What's so different about the vintage base ball matches? There's a heavy emphasis on etiquette. Respect and courtesy are key, as ballists are discouraged from swearing, spitting and making comments on umpire's calls. But there is one modern updating to this "gentleman's game": Women can play in these reenactments.
Umpires are outfitted in vintage garb, but also carry six-guns to scare coyotes off the pastures and call Muffs, Juggles, Bug-Bruisers and Daisy-Cutters (plays and errors.) Tally-keepers, local politicians and Victorian-era society ladies may all be in attendance, and spectators (or "Cranks") are encouraged to dress up and add to the living history.
The Parker Area Historical Society's Vintage Base Ball Match starts at noon May 19 on the field at 22219 Hilltop Road in Parker. The event is free, with donations welcome. For complete Vintage base ball rules and additional information, visit the Colorado Vintage Base Ball Association.