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Baseball as it used to be comes to Florence

Staff writer

A vintage baseball game from the days the newly created sport was “a gentleman’s game” wrapped up Florence’s 84th Labor Day celebration Sunday.

Florence’s Harvey Boys squared off against a combined team of the Howie House Griffins and the William Allen White Stockings from Emporia.

The Florence game was an exhibition for the Emporia team, a member of the Vintage Base Ball Association.

The rules of vintage baseball are different from the rules of baseball today.

Players wear no gloves. Pitches are thrown underhand. A striker (now called a batter) is out if his ball is caught by an outfielder even after it bounces on the ground. The ball has a different cover.

The playing field is smaller. There’s no taking a base for getting hit by a ball: the underhand throws are slower, and strikers don’t get hit. Slides are not allowed. Bats are smaller, being no more than 2½” thick at the thickest part.

“It’s more competitive than traditional softball, I think,” said James Bordonaro, a player from Emporia who has been on the team since 2009.

Sunday was Bordonaro’s birthday, which the game announcer didn’t let him forget, commenting on his “birthday boy strut” and promising to sing “Happy Birthday.”

When Florence striker Joe “Bionic” Box stood at the plate, several pitches bounced before reaching him.

“Oh, you could have gotten it off the bounce — that could have been a good one,” one of his teammates called.

When Box got a hit, he ran to first place base and sat on the bag. The audience laughed.

Florence’s team was made up of Tyson “Twister” Grimmett, Box, Noah “Later” Slater, Jimmy “Stubilicious” Shipman, Jordan “Desperado” Trapp, Luke “Tom Kitty” Lanning, Kaleb “Tonto” Fetrow, Collin “Slender Man” Monihen, Brandon “The Bionic Beast” Hayes, Eldon “Lil Smokie” Smith, and Gavin “Ice Man” Wasmuth.

The Emporia team won Sunday’s match against the Harvey Boys 9 to 6.

Last modified Sept. 7, 2022

 

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