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Monday, July 11, 2022

Huzzah! Vintage Baseball returns to Westminster

Huzzah! Vintage Baseball returns to Westminster

 

“Nice hurl, Cannibal!” 

“Well struck, Jackrabbit!” 

“Huzzah! Another run scored for the Westminster Lightning Bolts!”

The Lightning Bolts of Westminster Base Ball Club poses for a post-game photograph.These unique cheers could be heard at Wolff Run Park on a sweltering summer Saturday for the return of the annual Vintage Baseball game. Hosted by the Westminster Historical Society, the family-friendly exhibition celebrates the history of America’s favorite pastime.

Each year, the City of Westminster partners with the Westminster Historical Society, and donates the facilities needed to host the free exhibition by members of the Colorado Vintage Base Ball Association (CVBBA).  

The game itself features players of all ages from the CVBBA wearing classic garb, and playing baseball the way it would have been in 1864. While the rules and equipment may differ from what you would expect to see at Coors Field, the reenactment makes for a fun and welcoming day at the ballpark. 

Dathan Tinney, who goes by the on-field handle “Cannibal,” said the old-school style of baseball is high-scoring, accessible for all ages, and highly entertaining for spectators – also known as “cranks” back then. 

“We play a game of 1864 rules baseball,” Tinney said. “It’s Civil War era, and it’s the last year of the one-bounce rule. In 1865 they considered it ‘not manly’ to catch the ball on a bounce for an out. They went to an all-fly rule after that. We have a lot of older gentlemen playing, and it really evens the playing field.” 

The Victorian-era version of the game also encourages audience participation, including bribing umpires and fielding foul balls to help out the home team.

Jack Abeyta, a Historical Society member and Westminster resident, has been attending the games for several years and said it makes for a great experience at the ballpark. 

“These are 1800s rules, and I love the rules that they play with. No gloves, catching on one bounce, that makes it a lot more competitive,” he said. “To see all these older people out there alongside the younger guys and enjoying the game, it’s a lot of fun.”

This year’s game between the Star Base Ball Club of Colorado Territory and the Westminster Lightning Bolts was interrupted by a reenactment of women’s suffrage protestors led by Mayor Nancy McNally. 

A rowdy group of protestors storm the field, led by Nancy McNally of Westminster, a notoriously vocal proponent of women's suffrage.“What better fun than an 1800s baseball game and all the ‘Huzzah’s’” she said. “At this point in history, Wyoming had already given women the right to vote, but Colorado had not yet, so that’s the reason for our protest.”

When she wasn’t leading the suffragettes, McNally could be seen smiling ear-to-ear while mingling with spectators and players. She said Vintage Baseball is an event she looks forward to yearly. 

“My face hurts when I go home because we laughed and smiled, and it’s always fantastic,” McNally said. “It’s something the people before me started, and I think it has been a fun tradition. Same as last time, we had over 200 people, some locally and others from out of town. It’s all about fun and history.”

While the Westminster Lightning Bolts ended up losing a hard-fought game to the Star Base Ball Club by a score of 13-7, Westminster team captain JJ “Buckwheat” Humble said the team was happy to see such a strong turnout.

“It’s something we do every year right around 4th of July and we hope that everybody comes out to experience this unique game,” he said.

To learn more about the Westminster Historical Society, including how you can volunteer at the museum, visit https://www.westminstercohistory.com/
 

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