We hope you enjoy this abbreviated version of the
Serving Frankenmuth Since 1906
Vol. 112 No. 50 - In our 112th year!
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Huzzah! Vintage Base Ball Festival to draw 30 teams
The sports of baseball and softball have a proud history in Frankenmuth over the years. Several local teams have competed in state, national and world tournaments and the Frankenmuth Softball-Baseball Association has had a Hall of Fame for more than three decades.
Now, Matthew Barnard is taking the sport of baseball back to the 1860s, when the name of the game was spelled base ball.
The Saginaw resident is organizing the inaugural Michigan Vintage Base Ball Festival, with an estimated 300 ballists (players) competing on 27 teams from the states of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.
The base ball festival will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, June 22-24. There is no admission.
The action will take on four fields along East Jefferson Street. One field will be located on the west side of Weiss Street and the other three will be situated west of Weiss Street – all north of East Jefferson Street.
The community is represented by the Bavarian Base Ball Club of Frankenmuth, founded by Barnard. It is a historic club organized as a tribute to the 1860s and also the Bavarian traditions of Frankenmuth. This is a chance for people to learn the history of base ball in this country and see it first hand, played the way it was.
"Ever since I was a child, Frankenmuth has given me the opportunity to witness great events, have incredible meals and supplied the chance to enhance the holiday season like nowhere else ever could,” Barnard said. “Now is my opportunity to give back to the best tourist destination in Michigan. I look forward to this being an event for all ages, to teach about history, base ball and gentlemanly play. Sportsmanship and fair play was a major part of the vintage game.”
Some early photos show base ball played in Frankenmuth in Hubinger Grove in the late 1890s. Today, Heritage Park has three fields that draw multiple weekend tournaments to town. Little League action is played behind List Elementary School and E. F. Rittmueller Middle School.
This brand of ball will be strange to newcomers, as the field is just grass and fielders do not use gloves.
“We are 1860s vintage base ball, playing by the rules, customs and manner of the 1860s. We do not use gloves because they have not been invented yet,” Barnard said. “There are over 30 clubs all over Michigan. These are family-friendly clubs with ages from 18-70 participating. Skill is not as important as manner.”
The base ball terminology is also foreign to new spectators of the game is "corker” is a well-struck ball while a "Daisy Cutter” is a hot ground ball.
Participating festival clubs include Akron Black Stockings, Bay City Independents, Saginaw Old Golds, Lumber City Base Ball Club of Flint, Canton Cornshuckers Base Ball Club, Union Base Ball Club of Dexter, Black Flags Baseball Club of Drovertown, Shanty Boys Base Ball Club of Cheboygan, Great Black Swamp Frogs, Columbus Capitals, Early Risers Base Ball Club of Detroit, The Eclipse Ball Club of Northville, Fallasburg Flats Vintage Base Ball Club, Monitor Base Ball Club of Chelsea, Greenfield Village Lah DeDahs, Lapeer Tigers, Richmond Bees, Wahoo Base Ball Club of Royal Oak, Rochester Grangers, The Regular Base Ball Club of Mount Clemens, Continental Base Ball Club of Kalamazoo, the Walker Tavern Wheels Vintage Base Ball Club, the Bear Clan Base Ball Club of Flat Rock and the Bavarian Base Ball Club of Frankenmuth.
There are three women’s vintage squads. The Merries Ladies Vintage Base Ball Club of Chelsea, the Detroit River Belles and Ohio Village Lady Diamonds.
There will be one match at 6:30pm on the River Place field, the first ever Captain’s Match. The captain of all attending clubs represented will play in this match.
Saturday will have four fields of action following the 8am opening ceremony. Games will begin at 8:30am and should wrap up by 7pm. Games are 75 minutes long. The Frankenmuth club will play on Field No. 1 at 8:30am, taking on the Royal Oak Wahoos and then compete on Field No. 3 at 5:30pm, squaring off against the Columbus Capitals.
The Sunday matches will be determined through a draft lottery after the Captain’s Match on Friday.
“The format is that of a festival, not a tournament. In vintage base ball festival, we try to make match ups of the clubs who do not usually have a chance to play each other. There is no overall winner. If the festival goes well, and the rest of the season, we’ll have a tournament in 2019,” Barnard explained.
The PBS show "Destination Michigan” is coming to film an episode about vintage base ball and will be shooting Saturday’s action.