Baseball Review //
Westfield Wheelmen, 12
Bovinia Dairymen, 7
June 11th, 2022
Hilltop Farm, Suffield, CT
(Vintage Base Ball Association)

Additional photos can be found in an album on Facebook here :::

Location, Teams and League links :::

Through a series of clues it came to my attention that Saturday, June 11th, was going to be Connecticut Open House Day.   Back in 2019 we had an absolute blast on Connecticut Open House Day, touring through Bristol, so I went through the official website to see what the possibilities could be for this time around.   The thought of going back to Bristol crossed my mind, but when I saw what was described as "vintage baseball" as an option I knew that would likely be where we ended up, even if other options presented themselves beforehand.

The idea of going to a baseball game obviously appeals to me but the fact that this baseball game was set under the rules of the olden days just made it feel even more like something that I wanted to see.   Saturday was also a really nice day, so sitting outside in the sun watching some baseball is never really a bad time.  One rule you learn living in Connecticut is that it shouldn't take you more than an hour to get from any one place to another within the state, though lately with traffic and such it doesn't always feel like that but that is also something more common down near Bridgeport/Stamford/Greenwich- trying to get out of CT that way.

We headed upwards toward the MA border and I couldn't ever remember being in Suffield before for any reason.  Hilltop Farm is exactly what you would expect it to be from a farm.   There were a lot of farms on the road driving up to this as well.  After we parked on one field we made our way to another field where we would pay the $5 to then go sit and watch some vintage baseball.   Aside from the fact that this baseball was vintage, it also was just unique to see teams play where the backdrop was a barn.

There are various rules when it comes to vintage baseball that one should probably become familiar with before a game.   I only really read that they don't use gloves and the rest kind of presented itself as we watched the game.  There is a "high zone" and a "low zone" which you can call for strikes- and you don't have to call a zone, in which case the umpire says "no zone"- and that's just one of the ways this differs from the baseball we know now.  There are also different rules for pitching, for balls and strikes, so it made the game different in that way as well.

Aside from the rules though, which you can read about online, the fact that only the catcher had a small glove and most players wore gloves on their hands that looked like work gloves, this made the game fairly different from what we see on television now as the MLB.   You don't really realize how much the gloves help players in MLB until you see someone try to barehand a pop up or even just throwing from player to player.  It's easier to slip up and then an easy out at first becomes a double.  

There was only one umpire, who stood behind homeplate the entire game, and perhaps even more interestingly the players did not have numbers.   As someone who is not familiar with anyone in this league, this made it difficult to tell when there was a pitching change, for example.  So now I am curious if back in this timeframe teams would regularly swap out players and overall there was really no way to distinctly tell them apart, as we do now with the number system.  It's just one of those little things you might not always think about but this game will make you think about it.

We saw members of the Wheelmen hit a grandslam followed by a solo homerun and that was fun.  Really, overall, it was a hard fought back and forth game with the Dairymen leading for quite a while at first.   Everyone played really hard and it was just so much fun for a day out with baseball, but also with history.  I'm not really into history on a whole but if you want to take about baseball history that is something I've read books and taken courses about.  This really adds to that level of it and I wish it was something we could experience every weekend.

Though there is a vintage baseball league within CT, it doesn't seem to have any games scheduled going forward even though one of their teams played here just the week before.  The Bovinia Dairymen have a schedule which runs through October and has games in NY, Rhode Island and Gettysburg.  Bovinia itself is about three hours from here, but it'd be neat to go to Gettysburg for a weekend which is a "Vintage Base Ball Festival".    The Westfield Wheelmen have a Facebook page but no upcoming events listed.

This was definitely the type of event where if we could see this more often, within the state of Connecticut even, we would definitely be there.  It was a lot of fun, like the baseball we know and love only slightly different.   We got ice cream afterwards as well, which made Quentin quite happy.   I'm not sure how the teams decide when to play or if the season for the Connecticut league just hasn't started yet but I am keeping my eyes open for it all.