COLUMBUS, Ohio – At first glance, it seemed obvious what game was being played.
But, after watching for a few minutes, it might not be as clear. Pitchers didn’t offer up any chin music. Hitters didn’t put on displays of power. Certainly, nobody argued calls. This game is a gentlemen’s game.
The game was without a doubt baseball – or “base ball” – but it was a somewhat different incarnation than the one played by today’s major leaguers. Regardless, the players on the 31 teams from eight states that participated in the 19th Annual Ohio Cup displayed their love of the game.
“The idea is to educate people about how baseball started and its early days,” said Jim Tootle, a baseball historian. “Then they can watch, and from that window of baseball – which everybody likes to watch a baseball game – then they can become interested in the time period, learn more about the Civil War era, the 1840s, 50s and 60s, when baseball was just getting started. So, we hope this will stimulate and encourage and inspire people to read and learn.”
The baseball played during the Ohio Cup follows rules from the 1860s. So, batters could choose where they wanted their pitch, balls caught on the first bounce were an out and sliding was prohibited.
“(There are) many similarities with 19th century baseball with today – nine men on a team, three outs in an inning, nine innings in a game, 90 feet between the bases. Some of those rules have been in part of baseball since the early years,” Tootle said.
“And then, there’s some differences – just enough to make it fun. The players are not wearing gloves because gloves had not been invented in 1860, which is the rules we play. They didn’t come in until the 1870s and 80s. A ball caught on the fly or the first bound is an out. … The pitching is sort of like modern slow pitch softball. The ball is delivered underhand. The idea is a lot of hitting – not a duel between the pitcher and the batter – like modern baseball – but more of a contest between the hitter and the defense.”