Monday, August 27, 2007

Jim Bouton Brings Back 80s-style Baseball

1880s, that is. Jim Bouton pitched for the Portland Mavericks Single A baseball team in the 1970s after a major league career that began in 1962. He wrote a tell-all book, Ball Four, that pissed a lot of people off, but the sport eventually forgave him.

Ye old ball game
By Steve Henson

On a quaint patch of green in this historic western Massachusetts town last weekend, Bouton's vision of recreating an authentic 1880s ballgame amid a theatrical set piece of the period sprang to life at the first Vintage Base Ball Federation World Series.


As for the playing rules, Bouton and his board of directors of renowned baseball historians and writers have cherry-picked from 1850 to 1890 the ones they believe make for the best spectator sport. Besides the batter's choice of a high or low strike zone, other rules that no longer exist include: A foul ball caught on one hop is an out; there are no balks or timeouts; the hidden-ball trick and quick pitches are allowed at all times; and if the lone umpire can't see a play, he may "appeal to the bystanders and render his decision according to the fairest testimony at command."

I believe I actually remember seeing Bouton pitch once for the Mavericks (though it was about 35 years ago, so not very well). What a great idea this is! By the way, there are more interesting pix at the link, so check it out!


Pandabonium said...

That looks like fun! I've never been a spectator fan of baseball - the rules have made the game drag something awful.

But I enjoyed playing softball at a company I worked for (they had their own park behind the factory).

What a great idea to go back to the "good old days" - including the costumes. THAT, I would like to watch.

Swinebread said...

vintage baseball, I like that.

Dean Wormer said...

I heard a story on that. Looks like fun.