East Hampton Historical Farm Museum Hosts 19th Century Inspired Baseball Game

The baseball — lighter, softer, stitched differently and more akin to a softball — used during a baseball game played using 1864 rules at Herrick Park on Saturday. Michael Heller photos

They say that “everything old is new again” and that was certainly the case at East Hampton’s Herrick Park this weekend.

On Saturday, a 19th-century throwback baseball game brought out fans both old and young to benefit the East Hampton Historical Farm Museum — a step back in time itself, where visitors can see how farmers and fishermen lived on the East End from the 1880s through the 1930s.

The Mutuals pitcher throws from a shorter 45 feet to the plate.

The Brooklyn Atlantic Baseball Club, founded in 1855 and the first baseball club to visit the White House at the invitation of President Andrew Johnson in 1865, took on Mutual of New York, their chief rival, in a re-creation competition that featured old-style uniforms, field fundamentals and scorching temperatures.

The game of baseball has changed drastically since its inception, and the players did their best to capture every historical detail. Pitchers threw the ball underhand and the other players did without today’s leather gloves. They fielded grounders and fly balls with their bare hands and committed remarkably few errors. The bats they used were more like stickball bats, much skinnier than those used today.

Players from both teams took the field in flannel jerseys and pants despite temperatures in the upper 80s. Even the umpire was decked out in his best throwback gear, wearing a dark suit, a tie and a top hat.

“Big Mike,” who played for the New York Mutuals, enjoyed the camaraderie on the field.

“I played ball as a kid, but I never really played on a team,” he said. “This team has a great bunch of guys and I also play for the social aspect of it.”

In the end, it was a pretty one-sided affair with the Brooklyn Atlantics winning, 11-1. Despite the lopsided score, both teams displayed great sportsmanship. Prudence Carabine, who helped organize the benefit for the East Hampton Historical Farm Museum, was especially impressed when the two teams lined up at the end of the game and acknowledged each other’s performance with a traditional chant of, “Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah!”

A Brooklyn Atlantics baserunner is picked off at second base. Baseball gloves had not yet been invented in 1864.
Umpire Danny Davey takes in the action.