Interpretive history isn’t just for kids sent on school trips to Colonial Williamsburg or Waterloo Village. Some serious sports fans turn out for the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum’s vintage baseball match, Take Me Out to the Ball Game 1864. In what is turning into an annual Father’s Day tradition, two Long Island–based amateur teams—the New York Mutuals and the New York Knickerbockers—face off according to 19th-century standards on the Bronx estate’s lawn. That means knickers and stockings for uniforms, no gloves, no helmets, underhanded pitching, and longer, heavier wooden bats. Best of all, the ump attires himself, in true diplomatic style, in a fashionable top hat and waistcoat. The rules of baseball actually changed year to year in the mid to late 19th century, and the more than 300 vintage teams around the country are able to play according to any guidelines, but ’64 is a favorite because it was the last time a ball could be caught on a bounce for an out. Next June, be sure to catch a truly old ball game.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 21, 2009