Old-time Base Ball begins season in Washington County

  • Article by: KEVIN GILES , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 17, 2014 - 2:00 PM

Reigning champs, St. Croix, take on Afton Red Socks today. No swearing or spitting allowed — or the umpire will fine you.

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The St. Croix Base Ball Club plays at Old Athletic Field in Stillwater. Initially the club was formed in 1866 and joined Minnesota’s first league the next year. The first trophy was a silver baseball.

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A full summer of vintage baseball — that’s Base Ball, mind you — begins Sunday when the St. Croix Base Ball Club plays the Afton Red Socks in Lake St. Croix Beach.

Teams dress and play their games by pre-Civil War rules, which means players can’t swear or spit without being fined, hitters are called strikers, fans are called cranks and participants wear period uniforms.

“This type of Base Ball allows people from age 7 to 70 to play and have a great deal of fun,” said Brent Peterson, executive director of the Washington County Historical Society. “It is a great way for one generation to connect to another using the game of baseball as the link through their history.”

Under rules from 1860, players don’t wear gloves. If the ball is caught on the first bounce the batter (striker) is out. The umpire, often dressed in a top hat, doesn’t call balls or strikes, although batters strike out if they swing and miss three times. Foul balls are not considered strikes. Baserunners can be tagged out if they overrun first base. Players (ballists) in the field can throw the ball at runners to get them out. Also, the umpire can fine players and fans for arguing calls or general bad behavior.

Sunday’s game is free to the public and will begin at 2 p.m. at Pettit Park. For more information about the match or about vintage Base Ball, contact the Washington County Historical Society at 651-439-5956 or visit www.wchsmn.org/about/baseball/. □

Kevin Giles • 651-925-5037

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