Outside Looking In
As part of the Lyon County Fair, Vintage Baseball will be played on Saturday, Aug. 14 at 1:30 p.m. at the Bud Rose Grass Area by entrance to the fairgrounds.
Players are needed to take on the Quicksteps Base Ball Club. If anyone wants to participate, the game is played with 1860 rules and will be a day of enjoyment.
I played in a vintage game near St. Cloud a few years ago and it was extremely enjoyable.
The Quicksteps Base Ball (two words were used in 1860) team travel around to showcase the way baseball was played over 150 years ago. Quicksteps formed in 1994 and have played over 200 games in five states.
They wear 1860-style wool uniforms and use reproductions of 1860 equipment. Gloves were not used back then and rules were different than they are now.
Some of the 1860 rules include:
Fielders could play anywhere, including fair or foul territory. Fielders could move from position to position, even within an inning. Games (then called matches) were played without a backstop.
All the players stood on one side of the field. There were no benches or opposing locations for each team.
Even if a home team was ahead, they had to bat in the bottom on the ninth or would have to forfeit the game.
A batter would wait for a pitch he liked without the umpire calling balls or strikes. The umpire, at his discretion, could begin calling strikes if he felt the batter was allowing too many hittable pitches to go unchallenged. Umpires might also be asked to make a call as to if a runner was safe or out, but it was preferred that the players themselves make the calls.
Any ball caught in the air or on a bounce is declared an out. Gloves are not permitted. All fielders must field or catch the ball with his bare hands.
After playing many years of baseball and softball, the hardest part for me was remembering a catch on the bounce is also an out. I would try to run to make the catch when holding up and waiting for a bounce was an easier play to make.
Catching the ball bare-handed wasn't as hard as it seemed unless you were playing first base and the fielders would fire the ball in an attempt to nail a speedy runner. More than once the first baseman for our team would drop the throw and shake his hands in pain. We made everyone play first base at least one inning.
Quicksteps has entertained audiences at historical festivals in Minnesota such as the Winona Victorian Fair, Stillwater’s Lumberjack Days, and St. Paul’s Wild West Frontier Fest, and has performed at permanent attractions such as Historic Fort Snelling, (St. Paul), Murphy’s Landing (Shakopee), Dakota City Heritage Village (Farmington), James J. Hill Farm (North Oaks), Brooklyn Park Historic Farm, and Living History Farms (Des Moines, IA).
The club has also annually demonstrated the game before a Minnesota Twins’ contest, first at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome and beginning in 2010 at Target Field.
If anyone is interested in playing, contact Jennifer or Paul at the Lyon County Historical Museum at 507-537-6580 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Lyon County Fair runs Aug. 11-14 this year at the fairgrounds in Marshall.