Includes video, photos

Blast from past: Vintage baseball conjures memories of bygone era

Maine team Dirigo plays Boston-based squad in Sunday afternoon doubleheader
By Ken Waltz | Sep 15, 2015
Photo by: Ken Waltz Dirigo's Brian "Shakes" Reeves makes a spectacular, one-handed, diving catch in center field during the Sept. 13 1860s vintage baseball game in Waldoboro.

Waldoboro — There is a moment in the famous 1989 sports move, "Field of Dreams," where, standing on an Iowa farm, Shoeless Joe Jackson, played by Ray Liotta, says to Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner: "If you built it, he will come."

And, like stepping into a capsule (or an old Delorean) to take a 150-year trip back in time, that is exactly what happened, despite the rain and minus the corn field (although freshly-shucked and -cooked corn on the cob was served), he, she and they all came out on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 13 to watch old-time baseball.

The idyllic scene was a makeshift baseball diamond made in a field beside Dow's Discount, across from Dow Furniture on Route 1.

Click for photos from this event.

Watch video below.

The scene was surreal, as fans in folding chairs and people sitting in their cars lined the field to watch 1860s Vintage Baseball, on a piece of land with mowed base paths and players who sported mostly attire from that era.

The event was part of the Midcoast Sports Hall of Fame's open house for that organization's new exhibition hall located inside the Dow's Discount building.

The players, dressed right out of the 1860s, with many wearing knickers, high socks and loose shirts (others with pants and belts), looked a lot like an adult version of the movie "Sandlot."

The game was played with a soft, rubber ball and much different shaped wooden bats. Players used their bare hands to make catches, with no gloves allowed. The field was, well, just that, a field. No manicured dirt, and "bad" bounces were the norm not the exception.

The score was kept on a small chalkboard near the backstop, which was bales of hay. In fact, the benches were bales of hay. Some of the only references to the modern era were the cars that lined the field and the newer, store-bought cleats the players wore.

It essentially was akin to a Civil War reenactment, only with a baseball feel and real live game action. There were no fences, just a beautiful game of baseball in its purest form.

In the end, Maine's only vintage squad, Dirigo, bested a squad the New England Picked Nine of Boston in a pair of 7-inning contests, a good old-fashioned doubleheader, 15-8 and 11-7.

There was pass-the-hat donations accepted and concessions were available.

The games included uniforms, equipment, rules and field conditions from 1860s baseball.

The games included at least five players with Midcoast ties, including Adam "Mountain Man" Newell of Warren, Alex "Golden Boy" Goldrup of Waldoboro, Shepard "Shep" Brown of Waldoboro, Scott "The Professor" Hastings of Waldoboro and Jake "Shoeless" Newcomb of Bath.

Brown was the only one of that group who could not make the games and there were a few other area players who helped fill out the teams.

One of the pregame highlights was the fact Marjorie Adams of Connecticut was in attendance. She is the great granddaughter of Daniel Lucius "Doc" Adams, M.D. who was instrumental in many of the early field positions and rules of baseball and is being touted for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

"Doc" Adams is one of the founding fathers of the game, along with the more well-known Abner Doubleday.

Marjorie Adams talked about her great grandfather's love of baseball and some of the the things he brought to the game and what he thought about the then new sport.

For more information on "Doc" Adams, go to info@DocAdamsBaseBall.org.

The Maine team, which does a lot of barnstorming — showcases, demonstrations and games around New England — has been highlighted in Down East Magazine and on CBS News.

Newcomb, originally from the Midcoast and a teacher/athletic coach at Medomak Valley High school, is the president of the Dirigo Base Ball Club and has served in that role since about 2011. He has played with the team since 2006.

"I was asked to join by a friend of mine who was on our college's baseball team, and he was also a Civil War reenactor," Newcomb said. "The team got started in 2005 when some guys from the 3rd Maine Regiment reenacting group thought it would be fun to try out the 1860s game. It is an awful lot of fun.

"The 1860s game is a lot more 'user friendly' in that it is more accessible for the lesser-skilled players. The pitching is underhand, you can catch the ball on one hop to record an out … Though the game is more accessible to players of all ages, the level of play in the vintage baseball matches is quite high, featuring many skilled players.

"As of right now we are the only team in the state, but we are looking for more players to start a new team with the hopes of building some type of state league in the future."

The Dirigo squa usually includes: Scott "The Professor" Hastings of Waldoboro, Adam "Mountain Man" Newell of Warren, Alex "Golden Boy" Goldrup of Waldoboro, Andy "Iowa" Knox of Lisbon, Bob "Badger" Hubbard of New Gloucester, Brandon "Kid" Hubbard of New Gloucester, Devan "Red" Eaton of Augusta, Shepard "Shep" Brown of Waldoboro, Jake "Shoeless" Newcomb of Bath, Jeff "Jinx" Yopp of Freeport, Johnny "Love" Lowell of Lyman, John "Lefty" Coray of Brunswick, Justin "Bulldog" Kirk of Lewiston, Kevin "Irish" Sullivan of New Gloucester, Kyle "Bull" Feltis of Brunswick, Mark "Red Light" Rohman of Augusta, Matt "Cappy" Bray of Litchfield, Ryan "Grande Francois" Michaud of Greene, Brian "Shakes" Reeves of Augusta, Rob "The Cat" Rodriguez of Cornish and Scotty "City Boy" Daniels of Boston, Mass.

For more information, go to dirigobaseball.org.

Vintage baseball in Waldoboro
Fans, players gather for vintage baseball, 1860s-style, on Sept. 13 on "Dow Field" in Waldoboro (Video by: Ken Waltz and Holly Vanorse Spicer)
Comments (2)
Posted by: Steve Carriere | Sep 16, 2015 11:03

I would go further and suggest someone contact ESPN about a possible story, given that we are approaching the end of the season and looking forward to some playoff action.

 



Posted by: George M Gould | Sep 15, 2015 18:03

Ken Waltz has "hit a home run" with this story! If it doesn't win an award there should be an investigation. He captures all the aspects of a marvelous day of vintage baseball.



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Ken Waltz
Sports Director
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Ken Waltz has been member of the media nearly 35 years and has received hundreds of Maine Press Association and New England Press Association awards for his writing, photography and page design. He studied journalism at the University of Maine in Orono. He lives in South Thomaston with his wife, Sarah. The couple has an adult son, Brandon, who lives in North Carolina.

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