Spectators can enjoy base ball in its purest form through a Vintage Base Ball Game during the Steampunk Festival in Hannibal.
The Hannibal Nationals will play the Springfield Long Nine at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 5 at the Norfolk & Southern Multi-Sports Park at Sixth Street adjacent to historic Clemens Field.
Using 1858 rules of play, the two 19th-century-style teams will compete without using baseball gloves, with pitches thrown underhand and wooden bats.
Chris Hull has assembled of team with 12 players, from Hannibal, Palmyra and Canton. He said the sport appeals to athletes of all ages and abilities. “It’s the non-competitive spirit of the game that attracts players, called ‘ballists,’ of all ages. It’s a lot slower game and it’s more gentlemanly.”
The game’s name is typically written “base ball” rather than “baseball,” as that was the spelling used before the 1880s. The ball of 1858 was a bit larger, heavier and softer than the modern baseball.
The speech of the 19th century is also used while playing vintage base ball. Terms like “huzzah” for expressing delight, “striker” for batter and “cranks” for fans, just to name a few, are all used to keep with the era’s theme.
Hull said, It’s It’s the spirit of the game, not like baseball today. “
He encouraged fans to bring lawn chairs and enjoy the game. “It takes us back to our baseball roots the way baseball was created the first place. It’s like going back to the past, grabbing a piece of that, and bringing it to the present day.”