MALABAR FARM — The Mansfield Independents and the Butler Bulldogs, Richland County’s only vintage base ball teams, will host The Bromfield Cup exhibition match play May 6 at Malabar Farm State Park near Lucas.
Opening ceremonies will start at 12 noon with the first of two seven-inning games starting at 12:15 p.m. This will be behind the working farm barn on the historic farm of Pulitzer-prize winning author Louis Bromfield. The matches are part of the Park’s events for the Rich History Alliance Weekend. Admittance to the games is free and a small food concession will be offered by the Malabar Farm Foundation.
“Vintage base ball is a unique combination of athletic contest, living history, and outdoor theatre, transporting players and spectators alike to that fascinating and innocent time of the late 19th century when athletes gathered on the diamond or a local field for recreation, exercise, and pure enjoyment,” says Brian Hartzell, match play coordinator and vintage base ball interpreter.
The Mansfield Independents Base Ball Club was founded in 2008, in honor of the original team that first played in Mansfield in 1869. The fledgling Butler Bulldogs was formed last fall as a tribute to Butler High School which merged in 1963 as part of a school consolidation to form the Clear Fork Valley Local Schools. Both teams consist of local residents and amateur athletes whose love of baseball and affection for the history of their communities is strong.
Vintage base ball — historically spelled in two words — is baseball played by the rules and customs of the 19th century, specifically recreating America’s favorite pastime as played between 1860 and 1865. Unlike today’s modern baseball team, vintage clubs play with their bare hands. The ball is pitched underhand. Fair or foul balls caught on one bounce are considered outs. The players, many of whom have colorful nicknames, dress in period-correct uniforms and caps.
Player conduct, both on and off the field, seeks to honor the highest standards of sportsmanship, gentlemanly behavior, courtesy, and respect for others. Should a player, also known as a “ballist,” inadvertently curse or spit, it is not unusual for the umpire to require the player to apologize to the opposing team and fans.