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Second vintage base ball championships dominated by All-Stars

With umpire Harry Chadwick (foreground) calling balls and strikes, the Westfield Wheelmen take on the Mass Mutuals of Springfield in Game 1 of the Vintage World Series. The Wheelmen defeated the Mass Mutuals by a score of 7 - 6, with the winning run coming in the bottom of the ninth inning. Reminder Publications photo by George Skovera
By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD In a world where people connect more often through instant messaging than through face to face conversations, some wish to return to the proverbial "good old days." Even though it's impossible to truly turn back the clock, Jim Bouton, chair and CEO of the Vintage Base Ball Federation, managed to do just that this past weekend with the second Vintage Base Ball World Championships.

"This is quality base ball," Bouton said.

The World Championship games began on Aug. 14 and ran through the 17. The winners of the World Champion title were the Quebec City All-Stars, who went home undefeated after a 14-6 win over the Westfield Wheelmen during the final game at Bullens Field.

Vintage base ball (as it was spelled when the game was first organized in the 1860s) has teams who play based on the rules of the 19th century.

"People are fascinated by the old rules," Mark Hurwitz of the Meddowe Base Ball Club said. The Meddowe club was one of eight teams that battled for a spot in the World Championships in the regional playoffs. Ultimately, it was the Springfield Mass Mutuals who made it to the big show.

Bouton said the opening night had a great turnout, but he wasn't sure of the attendance because of the way tickets were sold for the event. Flex tickets allowed patrons to visit a certain number of games instead of specific games. He said that next year, he may decide to sell tickets to individual games instead.

"I'm always surprised by what happens [as far as attendance]," Bouton said. "This is only our second year. I think next year we'll have a better benchmark for expectations."

The most popular game of the championships was the last one, according to Bouton, when over 1,200 people came out to see the final match up. The standout game of the series, however, was the one between the Mass Mutuals and the Wheelmen. The Wheelmen defeated their nearby rivals by a score of 7-6, with the winning run coming in the bottom of the ninth inning.

No team could stand up to the Quebec all-stars, however.

"The Canadians were dominating with their hitting," Bouton said. He said the all-star team was similar to the teams full of "ringers" that used to take shape in the 19th century.

The Westfield Wheelmen took home a second place trophy this year, with the Santa Clara Stogies from California taking third and the Springfield Mass Mutuals taking fourth.

To learn more about the Wheelmen and vintage base ball, visit