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Many locals attended the Wilson’s Creek 150thAnniversary Reenactment festivities this weekend to eat 1860s-period food or see a dramatic battle scene. But on Saturday, spectators had the chance to leave the battlefield and sit diamond-side to watch an authentic vintage baseball game. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark tells more about how the St. Louis Brownstockings brought the “past” back into America’s pastime during the reenactment carousing.
[Sound: marching, practicing]
The sun was warm but the day was not hot. I stood on the sidelines of the vintage baseball field at the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Reenactment site. The St. Louis Brownstockings, a club devoted to playing baseball from the 1860’s warmed up on the field.
A couple minutes later, spectators of the reenactment left the battlefield to watch a game that many American’s love, but with a historical twist. Everything about this game, all the way down to the vintage baseball caps, was conducted as if it were being played 150 years ago.
As thousands of people milled around, Tony Wicker and his teammates began to set up the field, which consisted of tall grass and dirt.
“The St. Louis Brownstockings were actually the first professional team in St. Louis that actually became the St. Louis Browns. In 1899, they became the St. Louis Perfectos, where in 1900, they became the St. Louis Cardinals. So the St. Louis Brownstockings and the St. Louis Perfectos are both part of the St. Louis Cardinals’ baseball organization.”
Nicknamed “Lightening,” he loves the chance to share with others the historical side of the popular game.
“I enjoy playing this game and showcasing the game in front of the Cranks all the time. To be able to talk to everybody, for them to come out and sit right on the field, see how the game was played, ask all the questions and understand the terminology—that’s what makes this game so well to showcase.”
[Sound: crowd cheer]
“Cranks,” which in vintage baseball means “fans,” is one of the many terms the team tries to use on a regular basis. If attending a game, expect to hear words like “scout” (out), “hurler” (pitcher), “aces” (runs), and “striker” (batter). Even the word “base ball,” was spelled as two words and taken more literally back then.
[Sound: teammates talking]
Some rules of the vintage game are a bit different than modern day play. For instance, gloves are not worn at all. Also, a foul ball doesn’t exist. And don’t even think about stealing a base. Known as the “gentlemen’s game,” stealing a base was considered an insult to the other team. Sportsmanship is heavily promoted, and all team members are expected to cheer for both sides.
“The vintage style offers the gentlemenship and the sportsmanship that you’ll see everywhere where we play. Everybody will give a handshake and talk to people as they’re going in and out of the field. It’s loose, it’s relaxed, and it’s fun.”
The St. Louis Brownstockings travel around the Midwest, teaching and entertaining people through historical venues like the Wilson’s Creek 150thReenactment celebration. For more complete details on the team or the history of the game, you can visit our website: www.KSMU.org.
For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.
Link to STL Brownstockings: click here