OREGON – As we celebrate America’s birthday, one local organization celebrates the national pastime this summer by playing the game as it was originally designed – in the 1850’s.
As today’s cars go by, drivers pass yesterday’s game at Chana School Museum on Old River Road in Oregon, as two teams take a diamond, circa 1858.
“First major sport that America ever played before football, volleyball, basketball, anything, there was baseball.”
This is Vintage Baseball.
“The reason they liked it so much is it was so simple.”
They strip baseball down to its most basic elements.
“You could set it up anywhere and it was just a fun sport that towns took great pride in.”
That includes Oregon, Illinois.
“The Oregon Ganymedes were formed in 2005. This is our 15th year of operation of playing Vintage Baseball. We do a historic outreach program to teach people about the early origins of baseball,” says manager Mark Herman.
They don’t need much.
“Bases, bat and a ball. No outfield fence, no backstop, no skinned infield, we like it all grass. No gloves, underhand pitching. You have one bounce outs which is unusual.”
It’s an adjustment to the game’s origins.
“You should never be afraid of the ball. If you can play a game without gloves and a wooden bat. You shouldn’t be afraid when you play with aluminum bats and with a glove.”
There’s one umpire and no disputes.
“Way back in the day, it was a gentleman’s game, played for fun. We’re all making calls ourselves,” says Tim Strohecker, an Oregon Ganymedes player.
And of course, there are the uniforms.
“These wool uniforms put ten degrees on you. They say TV puts ten pounds on you, these put about ten degrees on you, and this might be one of the warmer games in our fourteen years that I can remember,” says Sam Ramirez, an Oregon Ganymedes player.
And with warmth, comes a cooldown and a downpour, but they play on.
One rule remains constant through baseball’s years – sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes, it rains.