Buffalo Bill Ranch hosts annual vintage baseball games

The Colorado Territorial All-Stars watch as the umpire flips the coin to determine the first batting team during Saturday’s Baseball Vintage Games at Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park in North Platte.

In the fifth inning of the first of two games between the Colorado Territorial All-Stars and North Platte locals at Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park on Saturday, an underhand pitch led to an aerial shot deep into right field.

The batter got as far as first base before the ball hopped once and was caught with two bare hands by an outfielder, rendering the hitter out.

The one-bounce rule is among the many peculiarities that make base ball’s 1864 rules endearing to historians and aficionados of America’s pastime.

Each year, the Vintage Baseball games in North Platte allow families to jump into a rabbit hole that shoots them back to the 1860s — long before the ballparks, fences and gloves.

The rules, applied by hundreds of re-enactment teams across the country, including the Colorado Territorial All-Stars, showcase the threads of an everlasting game that can date back to the Civil War period and beyond.

Each team, however, brings their unique vintage flair.

For the Colorado Territorial All-Stars, the drapes had red, white and blue colors, with some of the men, ranging between their 20s and 70s, wearing overalls, long red socks and kepi caps.

One of the ballists, or players, a tall, bearded first-basemen joining his 70-year-old father on the field this year for the Colorado Territorial All-Stars was Dathan "Cannibal" Tinney.

"We’ve been playing as a league since ’93," he said. "It started with a bunch of Civil War reenactors who got together and said they were tired of the Civil War scene and decided you know what, let’s go play a baseball game and it just came together."

Tinney, 39, has participated on 40 different teams across the country, playing and educating on the history of the team across 12 states.

And aside from the chance to bond with his father through the game, expressed his genuine love for it, adding that "it’s a good time. Good camaraderie. We’re not out for blood. We just want to have fun and do it for the love of the sport."

He also explained that the game, along with "the iron horse, the pony express and the telegraph when the wires aren’t cut," are integral to the West’s abundant history.

Some other oddities that are sure to amaze spectators include:

 

» If a ball gets hit up on a tree and a defender climbs the tree and takes the ball, the hitter is out.

 

» If someone in the crowd catches a pop fly and hands it back to a defender, the batter is also out.

 

» Players are allowed to bribe the umpire.

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