The Old Ball Game

The New York Mutuals and the Brookyln Atlantics faced off at the Old Time Base Ball game in Glen Cove. (Photo by Jennifer Corr)

Vintage Base Ball Game held in Glen Cove

Rob “Pickles” Fleischer of the New York Mutuals shows off the baseball being used in the game. (Photos by Jennifer Corr)

“America’s favorite pastime” has seen many changes over the years.
During the evening of July 20 at John Maccarone Memorial Stadium in Glen Cove, spectators traveled back in time and watched how base ball was played in the 19th century, down to the replicas of original uniforms and equipment.
“The 1864 rules and standards will be used,” a booklet passed out to attendees stated. “Played with old style bats and balls. The biggest difference is that the players do not wear gloves! Players will be wearing authentic uniforms. Back when the sport was a two words game base-ball or base ball, instead of baseball, as we spell it today.”

Bats are made of wood, and may be of any length, according to a compilation of rules by Ed Elmore and Jim Dragonetti.

Long Island has a great and long history of base ball, including here in Glen Cove. Many teams from Glen Cove formed between 1870 and 1898.
In fact, according to the booklet, in 1919, Glen Cove residents wrote a letter to the mayor at the time, James M. Burns, requesting to be allowed to play base ball on Sundays.
“We the undersigned residents and citizens of Glen Cove City, do hereby petition the City Council of the City of Glen Cove, to pass a resolution of your honorable body, permitting base ball (the great National Pastime) to be played within the City of Glen Cove on Sundays, in accordance with the recent action of the Legislature and confirmed by the Governor,” the letter stated.
On May 26, 1919, the City Council adopted a resolution that allowed the playing of base ball on Sundays.
Fast forward to July 20 of 2023, the game was played between the Brooklyn Atlantics Base Ball Club and the New York Mutuals Base Ball Club. The Brooklyn Atlantics won 23-19.
“We got lucky with this beautiful evening,” said Councilwoman Marsha Silverman, who was in attendance at the game, along with Councilman Jack Mancusi and Mayor Pam Panzenbeck. “It’s good to have diverse programming and get everybody together to enjoy the summer.”
The game began with the singing of “The Star Spangled Banner” by Mary Grace Cipriano, followed by the first pitch by Mancusi.
Thomas “Big Bat” Fesolowich provided the announcements that helped educate the audience on the rules of old base ball, which include:
“ The ball is slightly larger than a modern baseball. The center is made of rubber. It is hand-made.
Bats are made of wood, and may be of any length.
The bases are 90 feet apart.
Home base is a flat circular white plate.
The pitching distance is 45 feet, marked by two 12 foot lines, 3 feet apart, which the pitcher must stay between while delivering the ball.
Pitching is underhand.
All runners advance on a balk.
Three balls constitute a walk. Balls are called after a warning is given to the pitcher for not delivering fair balls. All runners advance one base on a walk.
Three strikes constitute an out. Strikes are called on good pitches after a warning is given to the striker.
A foul ball is not counted as a strike.
Not all pitches need be called.
The striker must stand on a 6-foot line drawn through the center of the home base.
A fair or foul ball is determined by where the ball first touches the ground.
The striker is out if the ball is caught on the fly or on the first bound. Runners may run at their own risk on a bound catch, but must tag up on a fly catch.
A foul ball is considered a dead ball until it is returned in the hands of the pitcher. Runners must return to their bases on a foul ball, and may be put out, as in a force.
The striker is not permitted to overrun first base, as he risks being put out.
Each inning after the first, the striker following the player who made the last out will strike first.
Bunting is permitted.
Leading off bases is permitted.
Stealing bases is permitted.
Sliding is permitted.
There is no infield fly rule.
Choice of innings shall be determined by captains.
There are no time-outs permitted between pitches.
The striker is not awarded a base if hit by the pitch.
If a pitched ball, not swung at, hits the bat, it is a dead ball.
A runner hit by a batted ball is not out, unless the umpire deems it intentional.
Possession of the ball after a catch, or after a tag, is not necessary
(Compilation of rules by
Ed Elmore and Jim Dragonetti)”
Fesolowich, after the game, said these games are important because it shows how baseball become the game it is today. He had been playing for 27 years before becoming an announcer, and he figured that since he knows a lot about the game and has a good sense of humor, he might as well get on the mic. The umpire, Frank Vanzant, normally a player for the Brooklyn Atlantics, said the game went well, and, although he must remain impartial, he was happy to see his team win.
“There’s a fellowship that happens once you buy the uniform and you’re traveling [to games in and out of the state,]” Vanzant said. “It’s competitive. A player is going to win. But it’s so much fun…. I love modern baseball. But this is base ball in its infancy, in its purist form and it’s more like a picnic than a business.”
He added that “Glen Cove has been great to us.”
“It’s a really fun crowd,” Vanzant said. “They’re always really interested. They ask a lot of questions. It’s really enjoyable for us.”
Vintage base ball began in 1979 at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration as part of a Civil War reenactment. There will be an Old Base Ball Tournament on Aug. 5 and 6.

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