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The 19th Century Baseball Experiment

I am trying to get 19th Century style baseball started in Southern California.

I am keen to encourage and grow 19th Century living history that is not focused around war or gunfighting, since I strongly believe that such activities can have more to teach and can be more fun than more violent pastimes. Note that I am in no way trying to suppress battle re-enactments or gunfight shows. They will happen with or without my support--but I am trying to "grow the market" and create a net gain in chances to dress up in public.

One of the great advantages of an event that is built around a battle is that is has is a clear focus. There is a central activity -- a reason for all those people to be there and a thing for them to do. This can be a problem with a civilian event.

However, with a sports event we can have it both ways. We can have the focus and interest of a battle while still presenting the mostly peaceful world of 19th Century America. If we were British, our focus would have to be a cricket match, but fortunately we are Americans so we can play baseball.

In addition to the baseball game, there would be any number of spectators who can come in large or small groups or individually: picnickers, musicians, dancers, hawkers, cowboys, sheepmen, medicine shows, political demonstrations (Temperance ladies--here's you cue), blacksmiths, telegraphers, roving phrenologists, physicians, newspaper men, laundries, cooking, and all the variety and vitality that was 19th Century America.

One of the things I love most about the civilian concept is that everyone belongs. You can never be too old or too young or too female or too male or too ethnic or too skinny or too fat. This is not the case for military men (though on the old-fat front, that doesn't stop a lot of them) and you are all welcome at the game.

So, I am trying to pull together a "league" of 19th Century baseball players. We are forming a team in the San Fernando Valley and are looking for other folks who might be interested in joining us. If we can get two teams, we can find a field somewhere, declare a game and invite all comers to join us in the fun.

Here's what I see as the basic elements of this league.

  • We will use the rules of around 1870
  • You don't have to be good at baseball
  • You have to be healthy enough to do baseball stuff on a hot day without keeling over.
  • Uniforms are optional -- though 19th Century attire is required. If this takes off, teams may want to spruce themselves up a bit.
  • Boys only--no girls see! So, if women want to play they need to wear men's clothes and a comical false mustache.

Let me know if anyone is interested.


Walter Nelson


I've got scenarios dancing around in my head already, such as . . . beer swilling spectators being hectored/lectured by a gaggle of temperance ladies, said gaggle warning America's youth against the evils of drink, recruiting more members into the movement? Anybody else up for a confab on making this happen?
Consider me an instigator.