Garden Diary - June 2023

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Take Me Out To The Ball Game
Saturday, 3 June 2023

The first Saturday in June sees an old time base ball game played at the Howell Living History Farm in Mercer County, New Jersey. Following the rules as stipulated in Beadles Dime Base-Ball Player for1864. A good time is had by all, both players and their audience.

Differences are noticeable just while looking at the players. Not players, they are called
ballists. The pitcher is called the thrower, and the batter is the striker. No gloves or helmets.

image courtesy of Susan Glattstein. All rights reserved.
The balls in use today are replicas of the 1864 balls,
a little bigger and a little softer than a modern ball.

image courtesy of Susan Glattstein. All rights reserved.
Today's teams are the Flemington Neshanocks and the Elizabeth Resolutes.

First, second, and third are one foot square, white canvas bags filled with sand
or sawdust. Home plate is a flat, circular, white metal plate, as Pete shows to us.

No meticulously groomed playing field, rather a pasture on the farm. Cows are
fenced off. Several times a foul ball would land in the pasture and ballists had to
hop the fence to retrieve it. "Not a foul ball," a woman in the audience exclaimed.
"It's a cow ball!" Everyone laughed and she blushed.

Keeping an eye on what's happening.

The striker is closely watching the thrower. Underhand pitch, no windup,
both feet on the ground. The thrower's box is 12 feet long. Bats are wood,
must be round, any length to suit the striker, made of ash, hickory, or oak.

He swings. And it is a hit!

Drop the bat and get ready to run! Each base is 90 feet from the next.

A different striker running for third base - small white blob to the right of the well pump.
It could be confusing who was playing for which team. Some ballists got delayed in traffic
so very graciously when the innings changed some ballists would play for the other team.

Running for home, go, go, go!

image courtesy of Susan Glattstein. All rights reserved.
The strikers were quite adept at hitting whatever the thrower might send their way.

Score carefully written down. The ballists are all gentlemen, but let's pay attention to the game.

Game over. Hip! Hip !Huzzah! to complement both teams, and again for the audience.

Susan, Paul, and I will mark our calendars for the first Saturday in June of 2024,
when the old time base ball game is again played at Howell Living History Farm.

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