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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The baseball field where it’s always 1858

The crack of a bat sounds different here. So does the echo of clapped hands when a 15-year-old boy named Gavin slaps his together and turns to scan the corn waving in the wind behind him, as if the noise had fluttered off into the night. He was standing in deep right field at the famous Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa — the same one they built for the 1989 movie where Kevin Costner plays a farmer who chops down his corn crop and builds a baseball field against his better judgement, raising baseball’s dead and reconnecting with his estranged father in the process. Gavin can’t fully grasp the weight of what this place means — the movie came out over a decade before he was born, he reminded me on the bench. But there’s something special about this field, and the game it’s home to.

For the last four hours, Gavin had been playing ball with his father and a group of other old men who make up two teams from the Vintage Base Ball Association (VBBA), a nationwide league that plays baseball “as it was” by rules from 1858. This game has a few tweaks: players don’t use gloves, a pop-up can bounce once and still be caught for an out, and pitchers throw underhand. Above all, etiquette drives the game: Runs don’t count unless the baserunner rings a bell at home plate, there’s no high-fives, and players who cuss have to fork up 25 cents for the swear jar.

bobm Posted: October 16, 2019 at 01:13 PM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: vintage baseball

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