Vintage Baseball or Dressing up in period costumes isn’t just for authors anymore… by Jessica Jefferson

Vintage baseball
Tournament at Sauder Village, Ohio this year
For the most part, period appropriate clothing. Many teams have neck ties and bibs

My husband has always been an avid baseball lover, and a competitive baseball player. Every so often, he’d find himself a group of guys to join on a city league, but a couple summers ago he was introduced to Vintage Base Ball (not a typo, will explain later).

Vintage base ball is similar to Civil War reenactment, but without that whole war aspect. The men dress in period appropriate clothing and play games according to the rules of the 1850’s- 1880’s, depending on which era the particular team is representing. In the nineteenth century, base ball was actually two words, and that’s just the beginning of the many differences between then and now. Each player introduces himself at the beginning of the match (game) with his nickname. My husband is Dandy, because he goes a little heavy on the hair product, and plays for the Railroaders. Other team names; Old Golds, Ladidah’s, Grinders, Nationals, Stars, Hilltoppers, Blues, Capitals, Echoes, and Independents. The players must adhere to the language and customs of the nineteenth century, where behaving like a gentleman was of the upmost importance. Men commonly play in long sleeves and heavy weight pants that are accurate for the period and are expected to catch the ball without the use of a glove, which came much later.

Period Clothing
The tallykeeper checking the rosters
The umpire wears his finest, and yes, the barn is fair play

These teams (clubs) play on fields without baseballs, as would have been the custom of the day and often encourage questions from the audience. Of course if you are going to watch a game, you must know the language.

Here’s just a few words and phrases to get you started –

  • Ace – a home run
  • Tally – a run
  • Ballist – player
  • Cranks – the fans
  • Huzzah – hooray
  • Foul tic – foul ball
  • One hand dead – one out
  • Leg it – run fast



  • Artist – proficient player
  • Bound – bounce
  • Hurler – pitcher
  • Muffin – player that means well
  • Rover – shortstop
  • Show a little ginger – play better
  • Tallykeeper – score keeper
  • Striker – hitter

Have you been to any games?  Even if you haven’t – what do you think your vintage name would be?

Team Introductions
The team introducing themselves. Some examples of names – Grits, Numbers, Doc, Rusty…



And of course, my husband

Elkhart County Railroaders
The Elkhart County Railroaders, Summer 2015
Follow Jessica Jefferson:

Jessica Jefferson makes her home in Almost-Chicago with her husband, nine and three year old girls, guinea pigs, and English bulldog Pete. When she's not busy trying to find middle-ground between being a modern career woman and Suzy-Homemaker, she loves to watch "Real Housewives of [insert city here]" and performing unnecessary improvements to her home and property. Jessica writes Regency-era historical romance with a modern twist, infused with humor. She always tries to create endearingly flawed heroes and one of a kind heroines that you'll want to continue knowing long after you read the last page. Fall in love with romance again...

11 Responses

    • Jessica Jefferson

      My husband’s league had their World Series in Dearborn, Michigan at Greenfield Village, so they try and tap into whatever historical venues are around.

  1. allybroadfield

    That’s pretty cool. I had no idea, either. I did go to Greenfield Village on a fifth grade field trip, though.

    • Jessica Jefferson

      Apparently, Greenfield Village doesn’t change all that much. They sleep in dorms while they’re there and according to the guys, they’re pretty darn historical. Especially the mattresses.

  2. Violetta Rand

    My first taste of vintage baseball came from a Little House on the Prairie episode. Love seeing it in real life. 🙂

    • Jessica Jefferson

      I love that you watch Little House! It does look picturesque when the guys play in fields – no houses, no lights, just the guys in the outdoors.

  3. Barbara Monajem

    I cannot imagine voluntarily catching a baseball without a glove. No, thank you! I vividly remember the pain in my fingers, even though the last time I played baseball was eons ago. However, to each his own….

    • Jessica Jefferson

      I have problems with sports in general (that whole hand/eye coordination thing) and I would probably end up with some sort of injury if I tried it.