19th Century Baseball in the Media

Late Nite With Conan O'Brien

Some say a waste of time; others say an incredible waste of time.


Conan O'Brien describing vintage baseball at
Old Bethpage Village Restoration, Bethpage, New York.

lthough popular with participants, vintage baseball can be misinterpreted by the general public. Often viewed as a bizarre ritual involving adults in pajamas attempting to play a game somewhat resembling baseball, vintage baseball gains a fair amount of attention in the local media of the areas where it is played. National coverage is rare and welcomed whenever the chance is presented. This seven and one half minute piece for Late Night with Conan O'Brien required four hours of shooting.

Video courtesy of NBC.

Windows Media Player Conan O'Brien at Old Bethpage. Click here for video.

Vintage Baseball at Cooperstown

This video excerpt was part of an 'Electronic Field Trip,' sponsored by Ball State University and filmed at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY on April 26, 2005. The event titled, "Discovering Our American Spirit: Finding Common Ground in the National Pastime," consisted of two one and one half hour segments, broadcast live and hosted by hall of fame player Ozzie Smith. Both programs were viewed by an estimated 17.5 million students in all 50 states and were exclusively dedicated to 19th century baseball. Students were encouraged to call into the live broadcast and ask questions pertaining to 19th century baseball.

Windows Media Player Vintage baseball at Cooperstown. Click here for video.

See the complete archived program at: http://ali.apple.com/ali_sites/ali/exhibits/1001598/The_Field_Trip.html.

Video courtesy of Ball State University and Mark Kornmann, Director of Teachers College Outreach Programs. Converted from DVD to MPEG 1 by Christopher Capoccia.

Earliest Baseball Video

Recorded on film by Thomas A. Edison on May 20, 1898. Photographed from a static camera position behind first base, the film shows a baseball game in progress. The action includes what appear to be consecutive batters running toward the camera; one uniform is distinquishable as Newark, New Jersey.

Video courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Windows Media Player Earliest baseball video. Click here for video.

The Old Ball Game

It's two, three, four strikes you're out

By Doug Stewart with Photographs By Douglas Merriam
Smithsonian Magazine, October 1998

The fanatics who play vintage baseball are as meticulous about details as are their brethren who re-enact Civil War battles. Historians as well as players, they read contemporary accounts of games played long before they were born in their quest for authenticity. They re-create the uniforms, equipment (or lack thereof), the home-made balls, even the language of more than 100 years ago. High fives are generally forbidden.

In Old Bethpage, in Long Island, New York, two separate leagues play, one according to the rules of 1866 and the other 1887. Most vintage teams around the country play by 1886 rules, in which pitching is underhand. The 1887 game is faster, "a gritty, full-speed-ahead athletic contest with fastballs, curves, hard slides and diving catches." A player is entitled to four strikes and five balls.

PDF Click here for the article in PDF format.

Vintage Base Ball This Week

19th century baseball has enjoyed immense popularity since being "re-discovered" at Old Bethpage Village Restoration (Bethpage, NY) in 1980. Teams and programs are continually being formed, helping to educate the public and preserve the traditions of this important period in American sports history.

Click the player to the right to listen to "Vintage Base Ball This Week," hosted by Jason "Gypsy" Kladiva of the Portage Iron Diamonds. The program reports news, events and scores during the season, and is solely dedicated to 19th century baseball. A new program is available every Thursday night.

The "Do You Know the Rules" segment is sponsored by 19c Base Ball Inc., and the entire program is sponsored in part by 19c Base Ball Inc.

The Legacy Continued Continued.