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These guys play 'base ball' by 1886 rules

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Instagram, @dmcelmuryphoto

Way back in ye olde times before all these whippersnappers got too busy staring down at their iWhats and Droidbots to care whether or not there are runners in scoring position, Base Ball was a game for the toughest of the tough. No pitch counts. Gloves without webs. Spikes up. Wool uniforms in the summer heat. It was not for the faint of heart.

In one corner of the Bay Area, there's a group of men who keep this era alive, playing old school baseball right down the to umpire's top hat.

Bay Area Vintage Base Ball is a 10-year-old amateur league that features teams like the Fremont Aces and their pitcher "Fingers" Hammonds playing with a rawhide ball against the Oakland Colonels. The league abides by 1886 rules, which means no batting gloves and a, um, different pace:

Seven balls, not four, earn a walk and foul balls -- "unfair balls" to these history buffs in cleats -- don't count as strikes. Old-time batters, called "strikers," can spend a lot of time at the plate facing down the "hurler" on the mound. The teams -- led by "captains," not managers -- feature a "first keeper" at first base.
An umpire is "Sir," and arguing with him is frowned upon. When small-town squads faced off in the late 19th century, the umpire usually was a well-respected figure in town, like the mayor or a judge, said Ed Rovera, the umpire Sunday.

There's even a solid contingency of players who rock the appropriate facial hair.

Rovera cuts a flamboyant figure, umping in a gray suit with tails, top hat and bow tie. His silver handlebar mustache gives him the look of a Barbary Coast barkeeper.
Some vintage players revel in their facial hair authenticity, showing well-groomed 'staches that would make former Oakland A's reliever Rollie Fingers proud.

Cruise on over to InsideBayArea.com to check out the full story and a bunch of video of the guys in action (and full, traditional garb). And, if you've got 35 minutes to kill, check out a full game (with wonderful play-by-play action) below:

[h/t Inside Bay Area]


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