Aaaaaaaaand PLAY BALL! After hearing about the vintage baseball league that plays by 1864 rules out on Governor’s Island (more info here), we simply had to go. On a most gorgeous summer Saturday, Meags and Sweetheart and I packed up the bare essentials (champagne, bread, cheese, sunscreen) and hopped on the free ferry to go see some baseball. In short: it was awesome. The New York Gothams wore navy pants, pillbox hats (you can see the lineage of those wonderful throwback Pirates hats) and white tunics emblazoned with a gothic “G”. What they didn’t wear? Gloves. Maybe gloves hadn’t been invented or maybe all leather was earmarked for Union cavalry saddlebags, but by the 1864 rules, the intrepid fielders go barehanded. The old rules are slightly different— you can’t overrun first base, the pitches are underhand, the strike zone is from the head to the ankles, and (most noted) the barehanded fielders can catch the soft rag ball on one bounce and the batter’s out—but the game is the same, the joyous, methodical, rhythmic American wonder reminds you why the game took hold of us in the first place. In typical American fashion, nicknames abound (Crash, Monk, Bugs) and, perhaps the most nostalgic element, even the heckling is genteel…Can you picture a Yankee fan telling at the Red Sox “That was UNMANLY!”? All of this, on a divine day, with the newly regenerating skyline of lower Manhattan in the background? Perfection.
top and third image by Hiroko Masuike from this NYT article (we were interviewed, but didn’t make the cut…).
Oh, New York Metropolitans, I apologize. Summer’s been here for about a month it seems and I’ve yet to go to a baseball game. This feels especially derelict given how far the sweet underdog Mets have come since last year’s walk-off-balk (and may I remind you that that was back when they had Jose Reyes? I say good riddance.): Johan’s no-no, Dickey’s almost no-no, and the thorough drubbing of the Rays this week. Well, Mets, I’m going to get my baseball fix tomorrow, but it’s not going to be at Citi Field (and gawd knows it’s not going to be at Yankee Stadium). Meags is in town and we’re taking the free ferry out to Governor’s Island to see the Gotham Baseball Club of New York take on Eckford of Brooklyn. Vintage baseball for modern times. Since the original New York Gothams of 1864 were heated rivals of the Metropolitans (and went on to become the New York Giants which in turn became the San Francisco Giants, oof), AND since Eckford’s original ballfield was just a crow-hop away from where I live, I’ll be rooting for Brooklyn as means of absolution. I’ll let you know how it goes. Let’s go Mets, Let’s go Ecks, and Let’s go summer.
1882 Metropolitan Nine image and Brooklyn Bridegrooms Image from the Library of Congress. Which is, of course, totally amazing.
The real March Madness takes place at Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens. And, apparently, there might be nothing in the world better than eight year olds playing basketball. They have the swagger and skill of the little men they’re becoming, but they still sometimes cry if they’re called traveling or sustain a rather nasty foul. Luckily, though, they’re of an age where any ill can be cured by pizza.