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May 15, 2014

Vintage 'base ball' coming to Brewery Ommegang

(Continued)

“The umpire had a lot of leeway,” said Elmore, who umpires as well as plays.

Elmore said that one of the reasons that batters let good pitches go by is to give runners on base a better chance to steal. Because of this, he said that umpires often call pitches more strictly when runners are on base. Harrison said that umpires also tend to be stricter at the end of the game than they are at the beginning.

“The end of the game tends to go quicker than the beginning of the game,” said Harrison.

Another difference from the modern game is that foul balls can be caught for outs, as can fair or foul balls that bounce once. How a ball is called fair or foul is also different, as it is determined by wherever the ball touches first. Because the game is played in open fields with no fences, no matter how far a fair ball is hit, it can be recovered by outfielders. In terms of base running, players cannot overrun first base, so sliding into it sometimes occurs. The bat and ball themselves are different, with the balls being slightly softer and having a rubber center, and the bats being more akin to clubs.

Still, despite all the differences, the game is unmistakably baseball, with games lasting for nine innings and runners having to tag up after a fly ball is caught.

“We see part of what we do as a educating the public (about how the game was played),” said Elmore.

“It’s so different from the modern game, but it has the best parts of it,” said Harrison.

“You play for the passion of the game,” said Emma, who noted a camaraderie that extended not just to members of ones own team, but to members of opposing teams as well.

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