One thing that we often forget when comparing the old days of baseball with the modern era is how much the basic equipment has changed over the years. I mean, if you’re playing third base and somebody hits a screamer right at you, would you want to be wearing this?
Two baseball teams in California got that opportunity, though, when their coaches put together a game in which they played exclusively with vintage equipment, including old wooden bats and gloves that looked more weathered than Mickey Rourke. At first glance it might have appeared that the economy was really taking its toll on high school sports.
The VENTURA COUNTY STAR was there for the game between Villanova Prep and Ojai Valley School, and the gloves they used weren’t exactly museum-quality:
One glove was so old that it did not have string connecting the finger or a web between the thumb and forefinger — it looked like the one on display in the Reagan Library, used by the former president in a movie about Hall of Fame pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander.
Neither team was allowed to practice with the equipment beforehand. The gloves were shared by the two teams, but the catcher and first baseman were both allowed to use their usual gloves. The players only used the throwback gear for the first four innings of the game, before switching back to modern gear for the rest of the game.
It’s unclear if any of the players grew handlebar moustaches for the occasion, but there was one scene on the basepaths that probably would’ve been described in the old days as a “tomfoolerish boondoggle,” or something like that:
Ojai Valley had runners on first and third with one out in the top of the fourth. As the runner on first attempted to steal, the batter drew a walk. Not realizing what had occurred, the runner retreated to first. As Villanova second baseman Brad David began to hunt for someone to tag out, the Ojai Valley on third made a dash for home. David threw to catcher Devon Billy, who applied the tag at home.
One thing that would definitely not have been allowed in the vintage era is a woman taking part in the game. They were supposed to be twirling an umbrella in the stands and talking about their sun dress. But in this throwback game, a girl named Jade Wynn pinch-hit for Ojai Valley in the sixth inning.
The teams plan on making this a yearly occasion, with old-timey uniforms and everything. This year’s game was won by Villanova, though the newspaper seems to be stuck in the dark ages as well, because they misprinted the score.
Thanks to UNI WATCH for the tip.