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A Mirror of History: Base Ball as Played in 1895

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GRAHAMSVILLE, NY — “These are no ordinary games,” said Collin “Stumpy” Miller, captain of the Mountain Athletic Club. “More than likely, the player and the style of play will resemble what your great, or great-great grandfather would have seen over 150 years ago.”

Fast-forward a few decades, and on Saturday afternoon, August 24, the Time and the Valleys Museum hosted a couple of back-to-back base ball games harkening back to the 19th Century between the legendary Mountain Athletic Club (MAC) of Fleischmanns and the lads from the Atlantic Base Ball Club of Brooklyn.

The games were played out before a crowd lining both sides of the field, with players dressed in uniforms appropriate to a couple of pivotal periods in the evolution and development of the game of baseball: 1864 and a bit later in 1895.

As noted in the coverage of the first game, in those olden days the game was spelled using two words “base ball” until it was shortened into the one word “baseball” of more modern times.

At the end of the second game, played over seven innings, the Atlantics defeated the MAC by an impressive score of 20-7, aided in part by a few fielding flubs by the boys from Fleischmans.

Frank “Shakespeare” VanZant picked up the win for the Atlantics, while Franklin ”Chopper” Davis was tagged with the loss.

A brief synopsis of the 1895 rules: gloves are different, only bunted balls landing in foul territory are considered a strike, the infield fly rule is adopted and a hand-foul tip is classified as a strike.

Both games were played under the umbrella of the Vintage Base Ball Association (VBBA), which states that “Vintage base ball is a pastime, with its beginnings and progressions mimicking those that occurred in America over 160 years ago.”

“Teams competing today wear period reproduction uniforms, use period authentic equipment and follow base ball rules from the 19th century in order to accurately present the history of baseball to the public….”

The Mountain Athletic Club was established in 1895 by the brothers Julius and Max Fleischmann, of Fleishmanns Yeast fame, in the Catskill mountain town of Griffins Corners, NY.

Games were played on what was then known as M.A.C Grounds, and Max later went on to become a part owner of the modern-day Cincinnati Reds

The Atlantic Base Ball Club of Brooklyn, aka “Atlantic” or the “Brooklyn Atlantics” was created on August 14, 1855, and, according to baseball history, was the first baseball club to visit the White House at the invitation of President Andrew Johnson before it folded in 1875.

In 1997, the 19th century Brooklyn Atlantic were reborn under the banner of the VBBA, and it was back on deck for all modern-era hands to honor the heritage of the original team which played their home games on the Capitoline Grounds on Brooklyn, going onto be recognized National Champions in 1864 and 1865, posting undefeated records both seasons of swats.

The original team’s most noteworthy victory occurred on June 14, 1870 against the first-proclaimed all-professional Cincinnati Red Stockings, in what was called the time “the finest game ever played.”

Atlantic snapped the Red Stockings two-year winning streak, defeating them 8-7 in 11 innings.

The recreated Brooklyn Atlantics takes to the playing field as a 1864 historic team, but has the ability to play base ball by the rules of other bygone eras.

Home game are played on the grounds of the Smithtown Historical Society on Long Island, and “it prides itself on presenting to the public a historically accurate interpretation of the 19th century game of base ball.”

For more information about the Mountain Athletic Club (MAC), visit www.macvintagebaseball.org. To contact the Atlantic Base Ball Club of Brooklyn, visit www.brooklynatlantics.org. For information about the Vintage Base Ball Association visit www.vbba.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vintgebaseballassociation.

For more information about the Mountain Athletic Club (MAC), visit www.macvintagebaseball.org. To contact the Atlantic Base Ball Club of Brooklyn, visit www.brooklynatlantics.org. And for information about the Vintage Base Ball Association (VBBA), visit www.vbba.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vintagebaseballassociation.

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