1992. April 17

Grand Rapids Press, August 17, 1992

GRAND GAME Base ball by 1867 rules is perplexing, pleasing

Sean Myers thought he had reached base safely when the baseball he hit was fielded on one bounce by the shortstop and there was no throw to first.

Myers, however, was out, because according to the 1867 rules of base ball (it was two words back then), a striker (hitter) is dead (makes an out) when a ball is caught on one bounce, fair or foul.

Myers, of Jenison, was a guest player on the Kent Base Ball Club roster Sunday when the Kents met the Valley City All-Stars in a benefit match at John Ball Park.

“I thought I was on when the ball bounced,” said Myers, who played third base in the eighth inning and acted as Kent’s behind (catcher) in the ninth. Playing third base, 1867 style, also was an adventure for the former Georgetown baseball player because, in keeping with the old-time rules, third basemen must play at their bag.

Kent’s thrower (pitcher) in the ninth inning was Paul Myers, Sean’s father and another guest player.

“I like the old-time baseball, the old style stuff,” said Paul Myers, who allowed a hit but did not surrender an ace or tally (run) in his one inning of work. “This is fun.”

The elder Myers apparently had no difficulty throwing 1867 style. Accordingly, Myers stood with his legs crossed, one hand on the ball in front of him and one hand behind his back. He was also obliged to throw the ball where the striker requested it, underhand and at a reasonable pace.

Playing to benefit the Ryerson Library Foundation and Grand Rapids Public Library System, the Kent Base Ball Club, the Town Nine (home team) defeated the Valley City All-Stars, 5-2, before several hundred cranks (fans).

“Well struck, well struck,” was the call after Kent outfielder Fred VanHartsveldt, striking left-handed, drove home two aces with a three-base hit to right field in the third inning.

Only after Kent’s two baserunners, who had crossed home base, approached the tally keeper, rang the Tally Bell and formally announced the tallies to the keeper were the aces counted and Kent led, 3-0.

The modern Kent Base Ball Club was established in 1991 to honor the memory of the original club and to demonstrate the early playing of base ball.

The original Kent Base Ball Club came to Grand Rapids in April of 1867 and played on a field located near what is now Kent Country Club. Kent’s fist game was played on May 24, 1867 against the visiting Ionia Custers. The Town Nine lost that day, 48-19.

Reproduced courtesy The Grand Rapids Press. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.

Kent Base Ball Club, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA