BLOOMFIELD, NJ — The Historical Society of Bloomfield sponsored a vintage ’base ball’ game at Wrights Field on Saturday, Sept. 15. Suiting up for the home team were the Bloomfield Buzzards, a very good, competitive, hardball baseball team. They competed against the Hoboken Nine, a team which only plays vintage base ball following circa 1864 base ball rules. The home team lost 20-6.
Part of the reason for the lopsided score may have been the unfamiliarity the Buzzards had with old-time rules. A fielder does not have to catch a batted ball on a fly to record an out. The ball can be allowed to bounce. During the game, Buzzards shouted reminders to their outfielders running down line drives or settling under pop up to “let it bounce, let it bounce.” When the new/old rules started settling in, Buzzards congratulated each other that they were finally “getting it.” After three innings the score had been 13-0 for Hoboken. Nine inning were played, so when the Buzzards got things figured out, over the last six innings, Hoboken was held to seven runs while the Buzzards scored six.
The Hoboken Nine play two games a month in the Mid-Atlantic Vintage Base Ball League. The team came into existence in 2009, but they would play only one game a year, on June 23, the anniversary of the first base ball game played.
Among the rules the Buzzards had to learn was that the pitcher tosses the ball underhand to the batter. Runners could also steal bases which, at least to this reporter, made base stealing relatively easy since a ball lobbed to the catcher takes its time getting to home plate. Regardless, fielders played without gloves or mitt, and a batter is out if he hits a ball caught on one bounce. Interestingly, the first base balls were made from lemon peels
“The Historical Society of Bloomfield is a resource for the community, and we are always looking for opportunities to give back to the town we love and show that history can be fun, too,” said HSOB President Jean Kuras.