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Posted on 2005.07.03 at 20:25
Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Fuzztones - Jack the Ripper
Today I went with my friends Bill and Lorie and their kids Nicholas and Augie to Old Sturbridge Village, one of those historical recreation sites, where they run a village with people in period costume, using the contemporary technology and the like. This one is set in 1838.
There was supposed to be some sort of parade for the 4th, but it seems that somehow there wasn't. Oh well. What there was, though, was baseball! Not just any baseball, but baseball 1838 style! This involved a few changes. The 'bat' was a broom handle thing except about half as long, the ball was small, and you ran the other way around the bases. That confused everyone.
Other rule changes- no strikes and balls. You just swing till you hit. Does this make it easy? No. because how many outs are there? ONE. after every out the whole team has to change sides. There are 30 people on each team (this varied), and you play until everyone has gotten one out. But it was fun! I have to say, though, whoever changed it to three outs did the game a favor. Another rule was, as they explained it was 'no one was left handed in the olden days.' The rule is that you had to bat right. Which I do anyway, but it was amusing.
The guy in charge of explaining the whole thing gave all the kids (and adults) a lesson beforehand in baseball slang from 1838- if someone hits it, you yell 'Well Struck!' and if someone gets it, you yell 'Well Fielded'! If your team gets a run, you tell 'Huzzah!' or 'Capital!' If someone catches your ball, or you get tagged out, you can yell 'Oh, the Deuce!' or 'Thunderation!' He led the kids in yelling all this stuff.
A fun time was had by all!


metalclarinet at 2005-07-04 03:29 (UTC) (Link)
A recent story suggested that baseball was older than previously credited. It is clear that some variant was played by Civil War veterans. What you saw likely was based on a single page of instructions written in the early 1800s -- perhaps with liberal additions. I am sure the game varied from place to place and from year to year. It is possible, for example, that the write-up contains a chance remark about batters swinging "righty" but I seriously doubt there was any commonly accepted rule.

I have been to Williamsburg several times and once to Fort Louisbourg in Nova Scotia. These are great fun. They are three parts history and one part hokum. I find that if you park yourself for an hour or two in front of one of the craftsman, you will see how the same question gets different answers, depending on the attention span of the person asking the questions. Once the craft folk realize you are in no hurry and appreciate their craft, you learn all sorts of things -- including what is guesswork.

Fortunately, these places do not reproduce the filth. You get a very Walt Disney view. Which is fine.

About 4 years ago I went with a reproduction viking ship to the 1000th anniversary of Leif Erikson landing at L'anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. (We towed up, not rowed.) The locals devoted a lot of effort to to building a reproduction Viking village as a means of employing locals who could no longer work in the fishing industry. They call it NORSTEAD We were told that the Community college offered a class in how to be a Viking.

I'm hoping the place is a lot better today. The docents knew very little. (One of our crew told a docent that he should have his cape pinned to the right side because pinning it on the left meant he was gay. Within two days they were all pinning right.) They wore a lot of synthetic material and the "forge" was simply a ring of stones around a fire. (Without bellows, you don't get enough heat.) My main beef is that they didn't have a first aid kit -- not even a band-aid. Too bad, because I ended up with a serious gash in my palm.

theservant at 2005-07-04 08:15 (UTC) (Link)
One of the guys in charge of this was the one who did all the research on the rules, and said that the batting righty thing was explicit- the batter had to stand at the backstop's left.

They oughta have had a first aid kit, or at least some kind of poultice or something.
(Deleted comment)
theservant at 2005-07-04 19:10 (UTC) (Link)
No jury would convict you.
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