Another notable element about vintage base ball is that players are often given nicknames, a practice that was commonplace among 19th century ball players as well.
“In that era everybody on the team would have a nickname,” said Harrison. “On my team everyone has a nickname.”
Indeed, Elmore said that most players are given nicknames that were used by 19th century ball players. Elmore shares his nickname with 19th century player William Riley, also known as “Pig Tail” Billy, who, like Elmore, sported a ponytail. Harrison got the nickname “Flash” after he stole second and third base in quick succession. Emma got the nickname “Dream Bucket” due to a combination of him sleeping on car rides to games and a bout of car sickness he had on one such trip, where it was suggested he might need a bucket.
Elmore described the Atlantics as a close group of friends.
“The main part of our team has been together nine years now,” said Elmore, noting that team members socialize with each other year-round, regardless whether it’s baseball season or not. “It’s like a family.”
Harrison also cited the family atmosphere as part of the appeal of the vintage game, which he said was full of people who love the sport.
“You wouldn’t play a bare hand base ball game if you didn’t love baseball,” said Harrison.
Elmore said that people interested in getting involved should look up vintage base ball teams in their area, many of whom have websites.
There is also a regional organization, the Mid Atlantic Vintage Base Ball League, which the Atlantics are a part of. The MAVBBL site is www.mavbbl.com. The Atlantics site, which links to the sites of a number of other teams, is www.brooklynatlantics.org.
One area vintage base ball team is the Roxbury Nine, who were supposed to compete in this weekend’s tournament at Brewery Ommegang, but had to withdraw. The Nine’s website is roxburyny.com/vintage-baseball/roxbury-nine.
Emma suggested that those interested in starting their own team work with their local historical society. The Atlantics home field is on the grounds of the Smithtown Historical Society.
“(You) gotta come out and try it,” said Elmore. “People who try it and start playing they say, ‘Wow this is much better than softball.’”