[Today marks the final “Fridays with Morris,” and he has a few words before introducing his guest author. I’ll see you guys after the jump — PH]
Yesterday, Jim Vilk wrote about vintage base ball, the Akron Black Stockings Base Ball Club, and the 14th annual Akron Cup exhibition at Stan Hywet. Here in Philadelphia, I am proud to be a booster of Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia, the area’s vintage ball club. Wonderful guys founded Athletic, but I would likely still support the team based singularly on the excellence of their belts, as seen above.
Like curling and pond hockey, this is a sport which lends itself to the Uni Watch community. (I am thinking about you, Ryan Connelly Invaders). Vintage base ball uniforms are DIY; wearer-generated as opposed to dictated by a great swoosh in the sky; they are utilitarian as they are meant to be worn and played-in; and names and colors resonate with consciousness of the sport’s history.
Ben Horrow was an intern for me this summer and authored the following. – Morris
Vintage Base Ball, Philly-style
By Ben Horrow
Philadelphia Athletic was formed in August 2009 and began playing in 2010. The team named itself after and adopted the colors of Athletic of Philadelphia, an amateur club, which turned professional in the 1860s and was a founding member of the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players in 1871. The team plays according to the 1864 National Association of Base Ball Players rules and plays many of its home games on the grass lawn beside Memorial Hall, near the Philadelphia Zoo in West Philadelphia.
The wool uniforms worn by the current Philadelphia Athletic Base Ball Club are based on the original uniforms worn by the club in the 1860s. Current team founder Scott Albert drew the design for the uniforms from Charles Peverelly’s The Book of American Pastimes. The players wear a hat known colloquially as a “Jeff cap”, that features a blue star on the crown of a white cap with blue trim. Players wear full-length pants with buttons near the ankle to prevent loose-pant bottoms from tripping players while running. Most members of the team wear modern undergarments and many wear cups to protect their groin areas, choosing safety over historic accuracy. Due to the difficulty involved in acquiring vintage footwear, most players buy modern day baseball cleats with plastic spikes and spray paint them all black to mimic vintage footwear.
When Scott set out to found a vintage base ball team in Philadelphia, he asked for help from brothers Ryan and Eric Berley. The Berley brothers own the Franklin Fountain one of the finest ice cream counters in Center City, in Philadelphia that should be a mandatory stop for all those vacationing in Philadelphia. Scott, Ryan, and Eric put together a squad and designed the uniforms, which are produced by K&P Weaver as well as the Ideal Hat Company. Scott noted two specific parts of the club’s uniforms that distinguish them from other Baseball garb. The button-on bib that displays the team’s emblem allowed the ballists of the 19th century to easily switch teams by removing their team’s bib and replacing it with another team. Such pragmatism was essential due to player’s mobility amongst teams by keeping costs and hassle to a minimum. Firefighters used a similar system when moving from one firehouse to another. Like the bibs, the team also imitated the belt style of 19th century firefighters. The belts are larger in comparison to modern baseball players and display the team’s emblem.
Teams other than Philadelphia Athletic observe the policy of welcoming women to play, departing from the custom observed in the 1860s. Although no women have joined Philadelphia Athletic, the Havre De Grace Base Ball Club does, and their female players wear the same uniforms as their male counterparts. These practices do not parallel the customs of the 1860s when women played on all-female clubs.
Scott was motivated to start the base ball club precisely because he found vintage ball so interesting. “There are research aspects and it’s a little bit of a performing art in that we get to play dress-up and be in character.” In addition, no Vintage Base Ball team existed in Philadelphia prior to 2009, leaving an opening for Scott to form his own club.
Vintage Baseball may be new to Philadelphia, but it has flourished throughout the United States for many years. Recently, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania the Saginaw Old Golds won the 2nd annual 19th Century Base Ball Tournament beating the Elkton Eclipse 22-6. The Old Golds went 4-0 on rout to winning the Golden Ball. 2,500 fans attended the in Gettysburg, numbers that resemble a single A minor league baseball game crowd.
In two weeks, on August 20 and 21, Philadelphia Athletic will host a Vintage Base Ball Fair & Exhibition at the Navy Yard’s parade grounds. During this two-day tournament, a dozen Vintage Base Ball teams from the east coast will play at the parade grounds. These teams, ranging from central Pennsylvania, New York City, to Virginia will play one and a half hour games all according to the 1864 Base Ball rules. Other attractions at the tournament include barbers giving 19th century style haircuts and shaves, raffles, and opportunities to ask players questions about Vintage Base Ball. Scott, Ryan, Eric, and the rest of the Philadelphia Athletic Club will compete in the Tournament, which begins play at 10am on Saturday morning the 20th.
Ben Horrow is a rising senior at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York where he studies History. This is his first article for Uni Watch. He was a summer associate at Elysian Fields Baseball and is a die-hard Phillies fan. Ben writes a blog about all things baseball at summerpastime.blogspot.com.
Thanks Morris and Ben!
Benchies from the Beginning
By Rick Pearson
For nearly three years, “Benchies” has been appearing most weekends at Uni Watch. While Bench Coach Phil fills in for Paul Monday through Friday during August, we present a retrospective. New strips will continue to appear on weekends. For further background, here’s the “Benchies” backstory and bios on the regular Boys of “Benchies.” This week, more or less, we focus on Ol’ Eddie.
And here is the full-size version.
Uni Watch News Ticker (compiled by John Ekdahl): Remember the ticker item from a few days ago with Reggie Bush shown wearing #8? Well, the roster sheet has him wearing #4 (David Gambill). … Looks like Virginia Tech has some orange pants in the works (Matt Powers). … Wilson Pollacia: “This is a pretty neat video showcasing some of the historical Arizona State football uniforms. Enjoy!” Speaking of ASU, check this out (Marc Altieri). … Sign of things to come? Darren Rovell had the Rays put his twitter handle on the jersey he wore while singing the national anthem (Jonathon Binet). … Here’s a shot of the University of Buffalo’s new uniforms (Tim Gerland). … Greg Patton: “Check out these great looking baseball uniforms from the Katy Heritage festival in Katy, TX.” … Is this logo likely to be worn by the Red Sox next year? I sure hope not; they can do much better (Chris Cocuzza). … Who decides what uniform combination the Mets wear on any given day? Check the bottom of this article to find out (Alex Giobbi). … Basketball court changes coming to Syracuse’s Carrier Dome (Sean Keeley). … Well, I guess it helps that one of these players is black and the other is white (Chris Andringa). … Spies in disguise: Fashion secrets of the Stasi revealed (Chris Bisbee). … Yeshiva University has unveiled a new logo and font (Eric Distenfeld). … Is the Islanders new alternate jersey black? (Scott Bennett) … The force is with the Padres, if you didn’t already know (Brady Phelps). … Purdue’s new football unis are out (Neil Strawmyer). … A Nike board member has been named chancellor of the University of Illinois. Paul was unavailable for comment; his bunker gets poor reception (Matthew Robins).
Thanks, Uni Watch!
Today marks my last weekday post (for a while, anyway), and Paul will be returning to his rightful place atop the Uni Sphere this coming Monday. I have to say, I enjoyed bringing you what I thought (and hoped) would be some of the very best that Uni Watch has to offer. I could not have done this without the help and support of the tremendous Uni Watch community, and the fantastic readers who also provided me with their talents in bringing many lede articles to all of you. I didn’t know if I’d be able to make it through all four weeks, but here we are.
I also want to extend a very heartfelt thanks to all of you who expressed your gracious sentiments to me following the passing of my father, a scant three-and-a-half weeks ago. Knowing there was so much love and respect among the Uni Watch community enabled me not only to make it through a very difficult time, but to emerge stronger and hopefully a better person. Whether any of you know it or not, the wonderful thoughts expressed in the comments and the dozens and dozens of E-mails actually got me through the early stages of the grieving process and let me know there are thousands of good people in this little community of ours. We’re more than just a bunch of eclectic uniform-nerds who gather because Paul has provided us with a forum to discuss the aesthetics of athletics — we’re a family. A great big dysfunctional family sometimes — but a family nonetheless.
One last note of thanks to Johnny Ek, who has not only keep the ticker fresh for us every day, but who has also been a great help to me not just with the blog, but in many other ways. Great job these past four weeks, John. And tremendous job over the weekends as well — three down, one to go.
So, I will now GLADLY turn the reins back over to our fearless leader, and my good friend, Paul Lukas. I think it’s safe to say we ALL missed Paul, and none more so than I. Running this site is a tremendous undertaking, and it never ceases to amaze me how Paul continues to turn out such high-quality content on a day-in and day-out basis.
Thanks for the keys to the car, buddy. Sorry about the dent on the side, but I did fill up the tank.
Everyone have a great weekend!
“I tired to explain to her that wearing a burnt orange sweatshirt on the Texas A&M campus would be a disastrous error. She looked at me blankly, and replied, ‘But it says “Texas” on it. And there’s a little cow head. What’s the big deal?'” — Cort McMurray