presented by the Loudoun Preservation Society
Oatlands, Leesburg, Virginia
On Sunday, June 12 Loudoun Preservation Society put on it’s inaugural 19th Century Base Ball Day. It was a great day, and in spite of the heat a great time was had by all. I had my first hot dog of the season and it was delicious!
It is Base Ball that combines history and entertainment while serving as LPS’s major fundraiser.
The teams came from the Mid Atlantic Vintage Base Ball League, where they play by the rules of the Civil War era in 1864 – no gloves, no helmets, and no catching equipment. The uniforms and equipment are authentic replicas of what a team from that time period would have worn. The players ranged in age from 18 to 67! I like that.
A few differences between today’s baseball and the 1860’s Base Ball –
The ball was tossed under-handed at a moderate speed as opposed to today where the ball comes inoverhand and in speeds exceeding 90 miles per hour!
In the mid 1800’s, the object was to put the ball in play. Today the object is to get the batter out.
One ball was used for the entire match. Thiswas due to the high price of balls and to keep each match consistent. A game today has 120 balls ready for use!
The Rules –
- Gloves and catcher’s equipment were not used until the 1880’s. Both came out of necessity from injured players.
- A warning and 3 balls were a walk. A warning and 3 strikes were an out. This was to hurry the game along, but it was very rare for someone to do either
-Umpires could ask the players and even the crowd for help on a call.
If he still wasn’t confident in the answer, he would just call a “do over”.
- The umpire stood between home plate and first base.
- The catcher stood 20 feet behind the striker.
- The players played closer to their base than they today
- Striker were out if their fly ball was caught on the fly or one bounce, even if it was a foul tip back to the catcher
19th Century Base ball Slang! These are great.
Ace – Run
Apple – the ball
Arbitrator – umpireBallist – player
Cake – player of little skill
Dish – home plate
Fanatic – fan or spectator
Jimjam – wild pitch
Krank – fan
Leg it – run hard
Muckie – power
Muffin – unskilled player
Sky ball – high pop up
Sockdolager – a long hit
The garden – the outfield
Well struck Sir! – good hit
Whitewash – hold a team scoreless in an inning
Willow – the bat
The History of Base Ball in Loudoun County, Virginia
Baseball was very popular in Loudoun. According to local author, Jack Barrett, the first known reference is an 1869 newspaper reporting that the Leesburg Tuscaroras played the Hamilton Magnolias in Hamilton. The Potomac Baseball Club formed in Leesburg in 1877, and the Loudoun County League was established with six teams in 1920.
If you would like to know more about the history of Base Ball in Loudoun County, Jack Barrett has written a thoroughly researched and detailed book called “A History of Loudoun County Baseball 1869 – 1987”.