Play Ball

Today was the first game of the 2010 season for the Providence Grays Vintage Base Ball Club. A team of which I have been a member since 2007. This is the 13th season for the club and we are the longest continuously running team in all of New England. We play according to the rules and customs of Base Ball as it was played in 1884. (although today we played 1886 ball which our opponent focuses their play.) That means no gloves, a pitcher 10 feet closer to the plate, 6 balls and 3 strike count where foul balls are not strikes and when hit by a pitch a base is not awarded. We play in period accurate replica uniforms made of the same materials used in the 1880’s. 100% wool uniforms are mighty comfortable for a doubleheader in august let me tell you. Dig around the website and you’ll find more details on the rules and the team’s history. I guess you could boil it all down to a cross between a sporting event and civil war re-enactment. We’re baseball dorks with a death wish.

We lost 15-10 in an ugly game on a muddy, wet field but no one got hurt and that is always cause for a celebration. I broke a few bones in my hand a couple seasons ago catching a fly ball, and pretty much everyone else on the team has at least one similar story while some have sustained far, far worse. Of course I would have liked to win but win, lose or draw it was still a day playing Base Ball (yes, in those days it was spelled as two words) and that’s pretty much better than any other day.

I didn’t play at all last year. With Liam spending the summer in the hospital, fun and games in the sun wasn’t ever an option; so I really have been looking forward to this game for close to 2 years. I played well I guess. Not well in your standard definition of playing baseball well, but well enough for my limited co-ordination and athletic ability. I am a very limited fielder and had 2 errors today playing second base, which isn’t bad in our gloveless game where single game team errors can easily run into the double digits, but they came with only 5 balls hit towards me all day. I had a great day at the plate though where I went 2 for 5 with a fielder’s choice and a long flyball. I was getting good wood on the ball, but my baserunning definitely left something to be desired. Unaware of where the defense was playing I ran into a boneheaded force play that I should have made with ease. I’m slow enough as it ,I need to make sure I’m using my head out there. Overall I can’t complain though as it was my first game action in a few years.

The plan was of course for Liam to come out to the park to see his daddy play but since it was a miserable cold and drizzly day he and his mom stayed home and hung out. I can’t wait to see him in the stands watching me run around like an idiot out there. Next month we’ll be playing at McCoy Stadium the home of the Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston’s AAA farm team. I’ve played there before and to take that field after meeting ball players that I have seen on TV (John Lester a few years ago and Clay Buchholtz the next) was truly amazing. Having my wife and parents watch from those stands was quite a thrill. I can’t wait for it to be my son up there.

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