• Image of the reconstructed stockade at Fort Vancouver and Pearson Air Museum looking northeast from the Land Bridge.

    Fort Vancouver

    National Historic Site OR,WA

1860s Vintage Base Ball Returns to Fort Vancouver NHS

Team photo of costumed participants portraying members of the Pioneer and Occidental Base Ball Clubs.
Costumed staff and volunteers portraying members of the Pioneer and Occidental Base Ball Clubs at Fort Vancouver NHS in 2011.
NPS Photo
 

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Date: July 16, 2014
Contact: Bobby Gutierrez, Rark Ranger & Event Manager, 360-816-6247
Contact: Greg Shine, Chief Ranger & Historian, 360-816-6231

By popular demand, visitors to Fort Vancouver National Historic Site will once again hear the phrase, "Striker to the line!"

After a one-year respite, the National Park Service is proud to bring back 1860s vintage base ball to the historic Parade Ground at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site—base ball played according to the rules in place in 1867, by costumed staff and volunteers portraying two of the Pacific Northwest's first baseball teams, the Occidental Base Ball Club of Vancouver and the Pioneer Base Ball Club of Portland.

The nine-inning match game will be held at 6:00 pm on Saturday, July 26, 2014, on the historic Parade Ground at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, just west of the park's Bandstand.  It is a fun, free, and fantastic opportunity to travel back in time to 1867 to experience "base ball" (then two words) at its infancy, with costumed players and supporters, a brass band concert, and a howitzer firing to start the game.

"We are very pleased to have the support of the local community in helping bring back this popular event," said Tracy Fortmann, park superintendent. "We encourage visitors to purchase a snack onsite or bring a picnic along with lawn chairs or blankets to see the action and cheer on the Occidentals and Pioneers in the national park." Hot dogs and popcorn will also be available for purchase, courtesy of the Grant House Restaurant.

"Base ball in 1867 was a very different game than the modern form played today," said Greg Shine, the park's chief ranger and historian. "The hurler—the predecessor of today's pitcher—threw to the striker's liking. Players wore no gloves, and could catch the ball on one bounce for an out—though such a practice was not considered gentlemanly. In a time of growing community rivalries, there was an extensive code of conduct to ensure all would play in a gentlemanly manner. Sliding into a base, while now a standard practice, was not considered a gentlemanly activity in base ball the 1860s."

On May 29, 1867, the Pioneer and the Occidental Base Ball Clubs met for the first time, with the Pioneers winning by a score of 79 to 62. "Our match with not be an exact repeat of this historic game, in order to spare our participants the task of running around the bases 141 times," said Park Ranger Robert Gutierrez, the event organizer, "but I can assure the crowd that it will be a lot of fun and all will adhere to the code of conduct of the time. If not," he said with a smile, "the umpire may very well levy some fines."

Along with the costumed players will be well-dressed "cranks" (baseball fans from 1867), and music between innings provided by the Vancouver Community Concert Band.  Based on feedback from previous years, a play-by-play will be provided over loudspeakers during the match game from the scorer's table, blending modern communication technology with nineteenth century terminology, historical tidbits and phrases, and explanation of on-the-field action.

To learn more about early baseball history in Vancouver, please download the park's historic resource study  The National Game is Decidedly 'On the Fly'": The Rise of Organized Base Ball in the Portland and Vancouver Area in 1867 at http://go.usa.gov/5cmh

Cost: Free!

What: 1860s Vintage Base Ball Match Game, Pioneer Base Ball Club of Portland vs. Occidental base Ball Club of Vancouver

Who: Staff and volunteers at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Where: Historic Parade Ground at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park System.  

Free parking is available at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Visitor Center, 1501 E. Evergreen Blvd, Vancouver, WA 98661, along the Park Road, and along E. Fifth Street between Fort Vancouver Way and East Reserve St.

When: 6:00 pm, Saturday, July 26, 2014

-END-

Background: Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service, is the heart of the Vancouver National Historic Reserve. The Vancouver National Historic Reserve brings together a national park, a premier archaeological site, the region's first military post, an international fur trade emporium, one of the oldest operating airfields, the first national historic site west of the Mississippi River, and a waterfront trail and environmental center on the banks of the Columbia River. The partners of the Reserve teach visitors about the fur trade, early military life, natural history, and pioneers in aviation, all within the context of Vancouver's role in regional and national development. The Reserve's vast array of public programs -- including living history events, festivals, cultural demonstrations, exhibits, active archaeology, and other special activities -- create a dynamic, fun, and unique tourist destination for people of all ages.

 
Photo of volunteer Bob Knight costumed as a member of the Pioneer Base Ball Club of Portland.
Bob Knight, a park volunteer costumed as a member of the Pioneer Base Ball Club of Portland, prepares to hit a pitch at the park's annual 1860s Vintage Base Ball event.
NPS Photo
 
Volunteer Brett Oppegaard, costumed as a member of the Occidental Base Ball Club of Vancouver, swings a bat during the park's annual vintage base ball event.
Brett Oppegaard, a park volunteer costumed as a member of the Occidental Base Ball Club of Vancouver, takes a mighty swing during the park's annual 1860s Vintage Base Ball event.
NPS Photo
 
Image of costumed woman adjusting the scoreboard at an 1860s vintage base ball game.
A costumed volunteer portraying a woman of 1867 records a run on the scoreboard at the park's annual 1860s Vintage Base Ball event.
NPS Photo
 

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