Greetings from Eric Berg (Bergy, Squarehead, One-seven) and a note about Vintage Base Ball



First, I want to thank Ron for his gracious invitation to write for this wonderful and important blog. 

Allow me to quickly introduce myself, and then we can get down to a short first blog entry.

I am a 50+ ballplayer that also holds a position as an Associate Professor of Philosophy at a fine university in northern Minnesota. I was born and raised in Minnesota and my wife and I are happy to return to the northern tier as I just started my new position last fall (2021).  Although training is a challenge up north. 

When playing modern amateur ball, I am a catcher and I dearly love that position. 

Taking a much needed break at the Rippey Ruckus in 2021.

I have played ball my whole life, with a few breaks in graduate school and early-career as a professor. 

I found my way back onto a ball field by way of vintage base ball (yes, two words), and it is that version of the game I will discuss first, very briefly. I joined the Springfield Long Nine after meeting them at a scrimmage at the old state capital grounds in Springfield. 


The day I met the Springfield Long Nine

After reuniting with the game via the 1858 rules, I then went to the fantasy camp of the Minnesota Twins and through that started playing amateur adult baseball on a variety of amateur teams. 

When playing vintage base ball, I have played almost every position and have evolved into a decent pitcher, solid catcher, and adequate third baseman for now. 

When playing the modern game I catch and play first base, with the occasional excursion to third and some scary moments in the outfield.  As a 50+ catcher I recently had to perfect the "one-hop" to second base, and I'll do an entry on that in due time.  

Pictured below, I am making quite a "heads-up" play at first at Twins Camp, a line-shot with the runner drifting off for an unassisted double play. 

I made my way back to the field of play as an adult after a chance meeting with the Springfield (Illinois) Long Nine, a vintage (1858 rules) ball club, and as baseball stories often go, eight years later I count a few of those players as my closest friends. 

What is vintage base ball? It is the old game played all across the United States and I happened to have lived for 16 years in a hotbed for vintage base ball, central Illinois and Missouri. My team plays by the 1858 rules, but that is not standardized, and you can find yourself playing under a great variety of rules when you travel to play. 

Vintage base ball fits this blog well as many players are over 40 and some well over 40, although leagues and teams do not have age limits as far as I have encountered.  It is a great way to learn about the history of the game, acquire some new skills, break a finger, and create lifelong friends. 

The biggest differences between the modern game and 1858? 

1. If the ball is caught on the bound (one hop) it is an out. 

2. We do not wear gloves. Ever. 

3. You can't overrun first base.

4. Pitching is underhanded and the point is to allow the striker (batter) to put the ball in play, not strike him or her out. 

There are many more, but these four typically stand out to a new observer of the vintage game.  And to answer the question often asked about the ball, it is not a nerf ball, it closely resembles a modern ball in size, weight, and density. Later, I will do an entry just about the ball. 

Here is a link to the national association that can direct you to a club in your area to either take in a game or join a club.  

Click HERE for a link to learn more about the ancient game and how it is played today. 


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