For some, old-time ‘base ball’ never goes out of style

A Diamond State Base Ball Club member covers first base while an outfielder watches. (Submitted photo/Diamond State Base Ball Club)

A Diamond State Base Ball Club member covers first base while an outfielder watches. (Submitted photo/Diamond State Base Ball Club)

DOVER — In honor of Mother’s Day, a traditional old-time “base ball” game is moving up a day.

Wearing their 1860s replica uniforms and playing by the rules of that era the Diamond State Base Ball Club will play the Lewes Vintage Baseball Club at noon this Saturday.

1864 RULES According to the Diamond State Baseball Club, here are some of the rules that governed the game in 1864: • Fielders do not use gloves. • The baseball has different stitching and is slightly larger (9 1/2″inch circumference.) • Wooden bats tend to be longer, heavier and fatter at the handle. • The bases at first, second and third are made of canvas and are smaller (12″ square) • Home plate is a flat, circular metal disc painted white. • Foul lines are marked from the middle of home plate only down as far as first and third bases (90 feet). Flags are placed further down each foul line, 100 feet from first and third bases. • No base coaches are permitted within the playing area. Players and captains may offer their teammates advice and direction from the bench at any time. • The first team to strike (bat) is determined by a bat toss or coin flip. • The pitcher stands in a designated area (not upon a mound) approximately 45 feet from home base and tosses the ball with an underhanded delivery to the striker (i.e.- the batter.) • The striker (batter) must stand on a line drawn through the center of home plate and extending three feet to either side of the plate. • If the pitcher fails to deliver hittable pitches to the striker, the umpire may warn the pitcher and then call balls on subsequent pitches deemed to be unhittable. • If the striker (batter) does not attempt to hit good pitches, the umpire may warn the striker and then call strikes on subsequent good pitches. • After the umpire calls a third ball, the striker and all runners advance, even if not forced from a base. • Foul balls do not count as strikes. • The striker is out after accumulating three strikes during a turn at bat. • Foul tips caught either in the air or on the first bound by the catcher are considered outs. • Though not prohibited by rule, bunting is generally considered unacceptable. • In order to be considered an out, fair balls must be caught on the fly or on a single bound. Runners cannot advance on foul balls. • The first striker of an inning is the player who follows the runner/striker who made the last out of the previous inning. • On foul balls, the ball must be returned to the pitcher, and then outs can be made by getting the ball to the base to which a runner is returning, before the runner arrives. The pitcher need not wait for the foul return in the pitcher’s normal position. • A run cannot score on a caught foul ball, but a runner on third can advance after the ball has been returned to the pitcher. • A fair ball is a batted ball that first touches the ground, a player, or any object within fair territory (i.e.- inside the lines extending from home base through first and third bases.) • The batter runner may be tagged out if he overruns first, second or third base. • Only team the team captain may dispute an umpire’s call.

1864 RULES
According to the Diamond State Baseball Club, here are some of the rules that governed the game in 1864:
• Fielders do not use gloves.
• The baseball has different stitching and is slightly larger (9 1/2″inch circumference.)
• Wooden bats tend to be longer, heavier and fatter at the handle.
• The bases at first, second and third are made of canvas and are smaller (12″ square)
• Home plate is a flat, circular metal disc painted white.
• Foul lines are marked from the middle of home plate only down as far as first and third bases (90 feet). Flags are placed further down each foul line, 100 feet from first and third bases.
• No base coaches are permitted within the playing area. Players and captains may offer their teammates advice and direction from the bench at any time.
• The first team to strike (bat) is determined by a bat toss or coin flip.
• The pitcher stands in a designated area (not upon a mound) approximately 45 feet from home base and tosses the ball with an underhanded delivery to the striker (i.e.- the batter.)
• The striker (batter) must stand on a line drawn through the center of home plate and extending three feet to either side of the plate.
• If the pitcher fails to deliver hittable pitches to the striker, the umpire may warn the pitcher and then call balls on subsequent pitches deemed to be unhittable.
• If the striker (batter) does not attempt to hit good pitches, the umpire may warn the striker and then call strikes on subsequent good pitches.
• After the umpire calls a third ball, the striker and all runners advance, even if not forced from a base.
• Foul balls do not count as strikes.
• The striker is out after accumulating three strikes during a turn at bat.
• Foul tips caught either in the air or on the first bound by the catcher are considered outs.
• Though not prohibited by rule, bunting is generally considered unacceptable.
• In order to be considered an out, fair balls must be caught on the fly or on a single bound. Runners cannot advance on foul balls.
• The first striker of an inning is the player who follows the runner/striker who made the last out of the previous inning.
• On foul balls, the ball must be returned to the pitcher, and then outs can be made by getting the ball to the base to which a runner is returning, before the runner arrives. The pitcher need not wait for the foul return in the pitcher’s normal position.
• A run cannot score on a caught foul ball, but a runner on third can advance after the ball has been returned to the pitcher.
• A fair ball is a batted ball that first touches the ground, a player, or any object within fair territory (i.e.- inside the lines extending from home base through first and third bases.)
• The batter runner may be tagged out if he overruns first, second or third base.
• Only team the team captain may dispute an umpire’s call.

This year, Mother’s Day fell on a Sunday, which is when the base ball game has typically been played on Legislative Mall during Dover Days weekend.

The nine-inning contest will unfold at a field behind the Governor’s Woodburn Mansion at 151 Kings Highway SW.

Club president Jeff “Swampy” Kabacinski said Dover Days weekend has always brought the biggest crowd of the year to a game, and he’s anticipating more of the same this year.

“It’s kind of a good news/bad news situation,” Mr. Kabacinski said. “We’re more out of the way this year, but there will also be more people in the area due to a busy Saturday on Dover Days who can attend the game.”

First-time spectators will be surprised when the pitcher tosses the base ball (two words in the 1860s) underhand, the fielder’s play barehanded and outs can be made even if a batted ball bounces once before the catch. Eventually, other departures from the modern game will prove surprising and interesting at the same time.

Playing first base one time Mr. Kabacinski caught a ball with his hands and suffered a broken finger as a result.

“It takes some getting used to, I’m not going to lie,” Mr. Kabacinski said.

The Diamond State Base Ball Club arrives with a roster full of players with nicknames such as “Buzzsaw” and “Moonlight” and “Flying Dutchman,” hailing mostly from Wilmington, Newark and Middletown, with a couple each from Newark and Milford.

“With the Lewes club coming from the south and meeting us somewhat in the middle, we’re looking forward to hosting a Delaware-centered base ball game,” Mr. Kabacinski said.

The contest will be unfold on the grounds of the Elizabeth W. Murphey School, thanks to the administration’s approval.

The 83rd Dover Days event starts today with an exhibition of old postcards from the city at the Old State House. The free event runs from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and organizers advised that seating is limited.

From Monday through Friday, guided and walking tours will be available to explore Dover and its history. Walking tours with historical interpreters dressed in period clothing depart every hour from the John Bell House at 43 The Green and last approximately 45 minutes. The guided tours cover the Old State House, John Bell House, and Legislative Mall.

A Diamond State Base Ball Club pitcher delivers the ball underhand during a game.

A Diamond State Base Ball Club pitcher delivers the ball underhand during a game.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment