Baseball never had no ‘fadder‘; it jest growed.
Henry Chadwick, 1904, Baseball Writer
t is unlikely that even the most visionary enthusiasts of early 19th century baseball would recognize very much of the sport as we know it today. Evolving from a children's game to the national pastime in less than half a century, baseball is a multi-billion-dollar industry that captivates millions of fans from every corner of the globe.
There exist, however, a small group of enthusiasts who prefer the game's early ways to its current state. These sportsmen are proponents of the 19th century game-known today as "19th century base ball." It is a game which the sport's founding fathers would find familiar.
Presently, 19th century base ball is played by more than 4000 players on over 400 teams in North America. Many of the clubs are associated with historic villages or living history programs while others are independent. Currently 28 states have teams; including the District of Columbia as well as three know teams in Canada.
Old Bethpage Village Restoration in Bethpage, New York, played their inaugural 19th century base ball contest in 1980, which was the first organized 19th century match in the United States. Ohio Village in Columbus, Ohio is the second oldest program starting in 1981
Most clubs follow a set of rules from the 1860's. Some clubs follow rules from the 1870s: Neshanock BBC of Flemington (NJ), 1873; and the 1880s: Providence Grays (RI), 1884 National League; and the 1890s: Elizabeth Athletic Club (NJ), 1891. It is agreed upon by many 19th century players and spectators that matches played by the rules from 1864 are the most enjoyable.
Some vintage clubs, such as the New York Mutuals, are versatile enough to be competitive playing by the rules of any year an opponent wishes. The mission of the “Green Stockings” is to promote 19th century base ball and aid enthusiasts who wish to form their own clubs. The Mutuals are directly responsible for helping start more than 20 current 19th century clubs and were instrumental in the formation of the program at Genesee Country Village. The Mutuals are hired each year to play matches and give presentations for historic town events throughout the northeast.
A new organization began operation in January of 2008 called the "Eastern League of Nineteenth Century Base Ball Clubs," or the ELNCBBC. This association will provide established, newly formed and 19th century base ball enthusiasts with a variety of information such as historically accurate playing rules and interpretations, historically accurate styles of play and historically accurate presentation of events for the public. Informational conferences, historic programs, individual player networking and on-field workshops have already been organized and will further aid those interested.
If you have any questions regarding this organization or would like to join, please send all inquires to email@example.com.
In 1996, the Vintage Base Ball Association, VBBA, was founded by clubs from the state of Ohio. This organization continues to assist today's players and clubs in many aspects of 19th century baseball.