One of America's most venerated traditions is the game of baseball. While baseball has fascinated and inspired generations of fans, the modern game is quite a bit different than it was when it was invented in the mid-1800s.
The National Park Service at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site and the Vancouver National Historic Reserve will give fans a chance to relive those early years on the diamond with the return of the annual living history event, 1860s Vintage Base Ball.
The first pitch will be thrown at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, at the Fort Vancouver Barracks Parade Ground in the Fort Vancouver Historic Reserve. After the game, starting at dusk, fans can enjoy a screening of Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner. Food vendors will be on site, the event is free, and it's a way to experience history at one of the oldest military posts in the West.
For the soldiers stationed at the U.S. Army's Fort Vancouver in the 1860s, (later renamed Vancouver Barracks), garrison duty was tedious. Games such as base ball (two words in the 19th century) were a welcome relief. Historic records often mention base ball as a form of recreation for the soldiers.
On Aug. 19, modern-day cranks (an 1860s term for fans) will experience a game played between soldiers from the Battery F of the Second U.S. Artillery and base ballists (players) on the Occidentals Base Ball Club of Vancouver. The teams will play under the National Association of Base Ball Players rules of 1860:
• The ballists play barehanded. No gloves allowed.
• The hurler (pitcher) pitches the ball instead of throwing (underhand not overhand).
• A ball caught on the fly or the first bound (bounce) is an out.
• "Fair-fouls" — Any ball that touches fair territory before going out of the playing field is a live ball.
• No fielder may use his hat to catch the ball.
Period music will be provided by a brass band. Throughout the game, the umpire will explain the calls he is making, and cranks dressed in period clothes will interact with the modern-day cranks.
"There something for everyone to do," said Special Event Program Manager Kimm Fox-Middleton. "You can be a base ball fan, a historian, military buff or someone who is looking to do something different."