The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Sports

August 18, 2013

Vintage base ball makes a comeback

Vermilion Voles host teams from Ind., Illinois

DANVILLE — On any given night, you can see a Major League baseball team pulling out their vintage uniforms for a turn-back-the-clock night.

And while those games have an entertainment value for the fans, you will never see a professional team go back to 1858 base ball.

In that era, the players played without gloves, the batters were called strikers and a striker was out if the fielder caught the ball on one bounce.

On Saturday afternoon, the Vermilion Voles hosted the seventh annual Uncle Joe Cannon Base Ball jamboree at Kennekuk Cove County Park.

“It’s a bare-handed game,’’ said Jim Knoblauch of the Vermilion Voles. “Gloves hadn’t been invented in 1858. Because it was bare-handed game in that era, they played a one bound rule. The batter was out if the fielder catches the ball on the first bounce.

“That levels the playing field for everyone involved. Because we have players that are all the way from teenagers to guys that we can just say aren’t teenagers any more.’’

The game is played much like the current-day game with a few exceptions.

All of the Voles play under the nicknames from “Ghost” to “Tumbleweed” to “Wheels.” And one of the biggest exceptions to current-day game is requirement of a base runner to ring the bell upon scoring to notify the tally keeper (scorer) of the run.

Unfortunately on Saturday afternoon, the hometown Vermilion Voles didn’t ring the bell as many times as their opponents.

“If anyone has followed the Voles or played on the Voles, they know that the end result is not the vital to our existence,’’ Knoblauch said. “We’re just happy to have a beautiful day and three really good teams here to share in our fun.’’

The Deep River Grinders out of Hobart, Ind., was back this year for the Uncle Joe Cannon jamboree and joining them were the Indianapolis Hoosiers and for the first-time ever, the Belleville Stags made the trip to Danville from the St. Louis area.

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