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Westfield on the Weekends hosts Vintage 'Base Ball' World Series

The umpire monitors a Vintage Base Ball game played in Westfield last month. Reminder Publications submitted photo
By Angela Costanzi

Staff Intern

WESTFIELD "It's [Vintage Base Ball] a gentleman's game, not like today," Vintage Base Ball fan Everett Talmadge said.

The Vintage Base Ball World Series games will all be played at Bullens Field off Franklin Street in Westfield Aug. 16 through 19. Tickets are available at any of the 11 Westfield Bank branches.

The rules and regulations as well as the atmosphere of the Vintage Base Ball (originally two words), games are based on 19th century baseball games.

One of the aspects of vintage base ball that differs from modern day baseball is the players are required to refer to the umpire as "Sir."

The umpire dressed in full costume with tailed coat and top hat, asks every batter if he would prefer a high strike zone or a low one.

Once the batter is in the batters box the pitcher isn't required to wait for them to get settled, they can throw the ball whenever they want.

Talmadge recalls at one game that the batter lost his bat on an over powering swing, but the pitcher continued to pitch even while the batter was scrambling to find a new bat.

Vintage rules also require seven balls to allow a walk and foul balls don't count as either balls or strikes.

The rules of the game are not the only difference. Players attire as well as the audiences attire is of that you would have seen at an 1800's base ball game.

"[Vintage Base Ball games] are a great theatrical event," Bob Plasse, President of the Westfield on the Weekends Association said.

All players are dressed in the Vintage uniform which is much baggier and has no numbers to identify the players.

Even the spectators join in on the fun. Many fans come in costume or vintage style baseball caps.

Some actors are even set up in the stands to bring a little flavor to the games.

Talmadge even remembers two actors at a game he attended that staged "getting out of hand," and the rowdy fans were then carried out of the stands by the costumed cops.

At the conclusion of every game players line up on the first and third baselines, then the captain or manager of each team takes a moment to say a few words of encouragement to the opposing team.

After the speeches have been give the teams give a short cheer.

"[The cheer goes] hip hip huzzah, they say it three times," Talmadge said.

While this is the first annual World Series tournament Westfield on the Weekends is hoping for a great success.

"I'm excited to think that Westfield will become home of Vintage Baseball," Plasse said.

There are different packages of tickets that can be purchased to accommodate to fans needs. Seven tickets can be purchased for $35 which allows one person admission to seven games or seven peoples admission for one game. The next ticket package is five tickets for $30, followed by a three ticket package for $24, or a single ticket for $10. All children under the age of three have free admission.