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Previewing the Vintage Baseball Showcase

The anticipation for the inaugural Vintage Baseball Showcase is growing by the day. Believe it or not, we’re only a few weeks away from the game. The Indianapolis Blues will match-up against the Elkhart County Railroaders on Saturday, June 29th at Lawton Park in a game that will be played using baseball rules from 1864. 


The Indianapolis Blues were a baseball team in the National League for only one season back in 1878.They used to play their home games at South Street Park. They were resurrected in 2001 by Scott “Preacher” Anderson. Until 2021 the games were played in Greenwood prior to moving to downtown Indy. To this day, they still play by the rules of the 1860’s and travel around the Midwest between April and early October. 


As we prepare for our opportunity to time-travel, we were able to chat with Greg Simons from the Blues to learn more about the team, the event, and more.As a player/scheduler, he continues to extend his passion for the league and the game.

Indianapolis Blues Players during a game.

“I've played baseball since I was five years old and simply love the game. The first time I went to a vintage base ball (it was two words back then) practice, I fell in love with the sport.  Every player tries their best on the field, but what's most important is to show spectators how the game was played over 150 years ago. Also, to show how it is different from modern baseball, and how the rules and customs evolved.  We're still learning things, adapting how we play and the words we use to reflect this new knowledge,” says Simons. 


Like all sports, they evolve and change so much over time, but it is often fun to experience what it felt like before our time here. I tend to compare it to the nostalgia factor for vinyl records, VHS tapes, or even retro clothing. Teams like the Blues have continued this tradition all around the Midwest, but will play in Fort Wayne for the first time in a few weeks.


“The Blues always enjoy playing in new locations.  It's a chance to demonstrate the game to a new group of people and create a new memory for the team.  We hope lots of spectators come out to watch, ask questions, and maybe even try playing.  We're bringing a combination of Blues, Elkhart County Railroaders, and a few other players, mixing the teams up for the games.  This is a great example of playing and educating being more important than winning.  We simply hope everyone has a good time and learns more about the game's history,” says Simons.




As exhilarating as this league sounds to me, imagine how much better it could be with more cities in the area following suit and creating more teams? With so much rich history of baseball in Fort Wayne, this will be a great way for some great baseball minds to come together and reminisce about the past, while also planning for the future. 


“Greater interest means the possibility of more teams.  If Fort Wayne is able to develop a team, there are a number of squads in Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan that are available to play against, and Fort Wayne would be a new place for those teams to visit.  Vintage base ball has seen growth and contraction over the years, with COVID causing some teams to fold.  If this introduction leads to a new team, or even to a few people seeking out nearby teams to join, that's a win for vintage base ball.  Those of us who love playing are always willing to welcome new teammates,” says Simons.


This upcoming year, the Blues are scheduled to appear in four new locations. This is the most first-time spots in recent history  This has to mean that the interest is growing. I had to ask Simons what the plans are for the team moving forward since this will be the most new locations the team has had in a while.


“That tells me many people want to see this interesting look back at history.  The uniforms, rules, and language of vintage base ball are notably different from the modern game, and showing and explaining those differences is part of the fun. The Blues plan to keep playing this wonderful game as long as possible, with current players continuing to display their passion for the sport and new players bringing additional interest and enthusiasm,” adds Simons.


We will welcome the Blues to Lawton Park here in Fort Wayne, Indiana on Saturday June 29th at 2 P.M. The event will be free admission, so come enjoy the first ever Vintage Baseball Showcase. The game will showcase vintage uniforms, equipment, and rules to allow fans to go back in time to see how the great game of baseball began. 


For more information on the Vintage Baseball Showcase, visit oldfortbaseballco.com/vintageshowcase

 

Dedrick Hendrix is a contributor to Old Baseball Co. As a Fort Wayne native, he grew up playing in Elmhurst Little League, Wildcat Baseball, and two years at South Side High School. He is also a baseball writer for Just Baseball and Fansided.


 


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