Vintage Base Ball coming to Hardin County (12/15)

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By Chuck Jones



HARDIN COUNTY — Will Stolz is hoping to bring Vintage Base Ball to Hardin County.

What is Vintage Base Ball, which is spelled using two words like it was prior to the 1880s?

Vintage Base Ball recreates the game based on the rules and customs of the 19th century. The game is quite different than baseball as it is played today.

Fair or foul balls caught on one bounce were outs. Balls are considered fair or foul by where they first touch the ground. Gloves aren’t worn by players.

Many of the terms are different as well. The shortstop is called a rover. The outfielders are called scouts. A run is called a tally or ace. The fans are called cranks. The bat is called a willow and the ball an onion or pill.

It’s an entirely different game, but one Stolz thinks can succeed in Hardin County. The team will be the first of its kind in Kentucky, Stolz said.

“It’s a gentleman’s game,” Stolz said. “There’s no arguing with the umpire. There’s no sliding. If there’s a play at second base, instead of sliding, the runner gives himself up. We don’t want anyone to get hurt.

“It teaches people, especially younger people, how sports should be played,” he added. “It’s not all about the win. If you don’t win, it’s OK. It’s about the game. With so many sports out there, this gives players another alternative.”

While visiting his hometown of Decatur, Ill., Stolz watched a Vintage Base Ball game. Afterward, he talked to several players and even took some batting practice.

“The rules are a little different, but I think it’s an exciting game,” Stolz said.

Stolz has lined up two of the team’s biggest expenses – uniforms and bats. Duke’s Sporting Goods has agreed to supply uniforms and the Leitchfield Bat Co. will give the team its bats, according to Stolz.

The next hurdle is finding players. Players can range from age 13 to 75 or older. Stolz has commitments from seven to eight players, but would like to get to 20.

“The toughest part is getting enough players,” Stolz said. “We’ll play two games on a Saturday and you want to have plenty of players.”

Stolz has talked with teams from St. Louis, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Danville, Ill., and Decatur, Ill. He said teams from those cities are willing to come to here to play and the team will return the favor by going to those places.

Stolz’s hope is to bring the Vintage Base Ball World Series, which selects different locations each year, to Hardin County in five years.

For more information on joining the Kentucky Dukes, contact Stolz at 862-3575, 735-3000 or at wsstolz@yahoo.com.

Chuck Jones can be reached at 505-1759