Relive History at Re-Creation of a 19th Century
“Base Ball” Game in Hoboken, June 18
One of Hoboken’s “100 Firsts” is hosting the first officially recorded, organized baseball game played under Alexander Joy Cartwright Jr.’s rules, on June 19, 1846. According to historical records, the New York Nine defeated Cartwright’s Knickerbockers, 23 to 1, in four innings at Hoboken’s Elysian Fields, which were located near the Hudson River, about where the former Maxwell House Plant was located. The Museum and the City of Hoboken are commemorating the event with a re-creation of a mid-19th century game with a team of historic interpreters playing against an all-volunteer "Hoboken Nine," on Saturday, June 18, at 1 p.m. at Stevens Institute of Technology’s Dobbelaar Baseball Field.
The Flemington Neshanock Base Ball Club will meet the Hoboken Nine in a competitive match played by 1864 rules. The Neshanock are experienced historic re-creators who play real games using authentic replicas of 19th century equipment and wear 19th century-style uniforms (circa 1860s-1870s). Even the umpire is dressed in period attire: a mid-1800s suit and top hat. And, keeping with the mid-19 th century custom, all fielders play barehanded – no gloves.
The teams play nine innings and the bases are 90 feet apart, which has been the standard since 1858. Before then, base distance was measured as 42 paces, and teams played until one club scored 21 runs.
The teams will be playing using the rules of 1864. Some of the differences are:
- Pitcher throws underhand from a distance of 45 feet from home plate (as opposed to overhand from a mound 60.5 feet away as they do today).
- Only one umpire, who stands to the side of the batter.
- Three balls for a walk and three strikes for a strikeout, but the first pitch to the batter is not called.
- Batter, or “striker,” can ask for high or low pitches.
- Ball is fair or foul depending on where it touches the ground first (it does not have to be fair past the bases as it does today).
- A foul ball can also be caught on one bounce for an out (until 1864 even fair balls could be caught on one bounce for an out.
- Only the team captain may call a time out or speak to the umpire about a call or the rules.
Brad “Brooklyn” Shaw organized the Flemington Neshanock Club in 2001 after researching the historic records of a team that played our nation’s pastime in Flemington, N.J. starting in 1866. Shaw will give a brief talk before the game about the history of baseball, including a rendition of “Casey at the Bat.” During the game, he will also announce the score, answer questions and point out other interesting details. More information on the Flemington Neshanock club can be found at http://www.neshanock.org/.
Don’t miss this special afternoon. Seating in the Stevens baseball diamond will be on bleachers, and hotdogs and commemorative t-shirts will be available for purchase. Admission is free, as the event is supported by a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services. The Museum thanks IMLS for its generous support and the Stevens Institute of Technology for making its facilities available. ◦