Sports Are For Everybody: The Great Oregon Ave Octopi Softball Barnstorming Tour of 2013: Part 2

Part 1 can be found here.

South Haven, Michigan- 1858 Baseball vs the Barkpealers

We awoke after a restful sleep (just about any sleep would be restful after spending a day in an extremely cramped car.) Here was the first day of actual ballplaying!

BarnstormingFirst, a word on Vintage Ball. Similar to Civil War re-enacting, it is an effort to live history by experiencing the sites, smells, and sounds in a participatory manner outside of professional academic study. The Bark Pealers, whom got their name from a historic local team composed of lumberjacks, dresses in authentic uniforms of 1858 baseball, or at least one variant of the game, as the rules had not be standardized into the baseball rules we know today.

Rules of 1858 Baseball variant played by the Barkpealers:

  • The ball is somewhat softer than a present-day baseball, though not much.
  • No mitts are used, meaning that you couldn’t drill the ball at another player, since most likely they wouldn’t catch it.
  • In addition to balls caught in the air, if you catch the ball after it bounced one time, that counts as an out.
  • Any foul tips caught by the catcher is an automatic out.
  • All players, except the shortstop, had to line up at specific places on the field. (Which I didn’t realize until we were playing, causing me to have some minor confusion onto the poor positioning of the Octopi.)
  • They had all sorts of mid 19th century baseball language: The pitcher was the “hurler”, left-handed batters were “wrong-siders”, and if you scored a run, you had to go up to the score-keeper, who was sitting at a desk, ring a bell, and ask him to “tally your ace.” If you forgot to do that, the run didn’t count.
1858 Bark Pealers

Historical accuracy, right down to the uniforms.

Sam’s uncle explained the historical game to us. Back in the day, Sam played on the team and hit the team’s first home run.

We played the game at a park by a beach on the Lake Michigan, on a chilly day where it was lightly sprinkling.

The Bark Peelers beat us 9-7 in seven innings. We had four outs on catcher-caught foul tips, Sam having three of them. The teams generally let kids make it to base if the hits were lightly hit, as there were three kids playing, including Koba.  At the conclusion of the game, Sam’s uncle said that Sam had set a new record for outs on foul tips. I said, “Didn’t he hit your team’s first home runs?” To which his uncle light heartily jabbed him by saying, “He was a lot better player back then.”

Afterwards, we went to the local historical society where the Bark Peelers had prepared for us an amazing meal of home cooked hot dogs, sausages, lasagna, salad, fruit salads, corn on the cob, and more.

We stayed there for about two hours before heading out to walk through South Haven briefly:

Columbus- Rock n Roll Softball

Again, we awoke early the next day after a night of somewhat heavy drinking to celebrate at Karla’s house to head out to Columbus. After saying goodbye to Karla, Koba, Ryan, and Sam, we embarked southward.

We encountered some heavy traffic when nearing Columbus on account of the Ohio State Fair, which made it somewhat more stressful as we were going to pickup Lou at the bus station, and some locals were harassing him. Luckily, we picked Lou up before anything lousy happened. We trekked across town to arrive at the local watering hole/venue “The Ace of Cups”, with a bbq truck outside:

Ace of Cups BBQ

We met up with Tim, Will, and Tito of Rock N Roll Softball there. Rock N Roll Softball has been going strong in this self-described “cowtown” whose main industry revolves around Ohio State University. It has all sorts of older and younger rockers and locals who weekly have pickup softball games.

Rock N' Rollers

We had a 7 inning game (we got our butts kicked pretty good by the Rock N Rollers’ slugging) before splitting up into a sandlot game which lasted until sundown. The Octopi went back to Ace of Cups with some rock n rollers for karaoke night. Due to some turnover on the team previous to the barnstorming trip, our housing hadn’t been totally finalized until we arrived in Columbus. Thankfully, we were able to get housing thanks to the generous efforts of the Columbus team:

We generally got intoxicated and a few Octopi sung some karaoke back at Ace of Cups:




Part III coming soon!


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