Batter Up!

Batter Up!” – Kathleen Edgecomb/The Day

“What’s become of America’s favorite pastime? Once a “healthy recreation for gentlemen,” now it’s a multi-billion dollar business rife with inflated egos and salaries, and abuse of drugs and alcohol.

When baseball was invented in 1861, there were no gloves, so it was permissible to catch a ball on the first bounce for an out. Strikes had just been invented as a way to punish batters who refused to swing at good pitches. Underhanded pitching was the norm. The ball was close to the size of softball.

The New London County Historical Society is bringing back the more genteel game. The Thames Base Ball Club will face the Connors of Waterbury during the Thames’ first home game at 2 p.m. Sunday at Fort Trumbull State Park. Players will be dressed in vintage-style uniforms. There is no admission fee.

“I just wanted to try to reinforce the message that history doesn’t only live in historic houses; it can be experienced directly. And it can be fun,” says Edward Baker, executive director of the historical society.

A league of vintage clubs exists in southern New England with members from New Haven, Hartford and Waterbury in Connecticut; Coventry, Bristol and Providence in Rhode Island; and Melrose, Danvers and Lynn in Massachusetts. The New London club hopes to be admitted to the league for next year’s season.

Thames Club will play the Connors of Waterbury in a vintage baseball game at 2 p.m. Sunday at Fort Trumbull State Park, New London. There is no charge to watch the game. Call the New London County Historical Society at 443-1209.”