NATIONAL PARK TO HIGHLIGHT MILITARY HISTORY AND BASE BALLS 140TH ANNIVERSARY

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Date: July 9, 2007
Contact: Kimm Fox-Middleton, 360-816-6243

VANCOUVER, WA- The National Park Service at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site and the Vancouver National Historic Reserve is pleased to announce the activities of this year’s Soldiers Bivouac and Vintage Base Ball Match Game. Both events are free, and a wonderful way to experience history at one of the oldest military posts in the West.

The Soldiers Bivouac will open at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, July 21st and 22nd, 2007, and will take place on the Fort Vancouver Parade Ground near the Bandstand. Visitors will be able to join volunteers and re-enactors as they share the stories of the soldiers who lived at Vancouver Barracks. Re-enactors will portray soldiers ranging from 1849 to the end of World War II.

Highlights include living history camps on the parade ground featuring talks and demonstrations, Civil War-era musket firing drills, Civil War-era Infantry drills, and Indian Wars-era rifle firing demonstrations.

The event also includes an 1860’s Vintage Base Ball game at the Fort Vancouver Parade Ground at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 21.

"This year we are celebrating the 140th anniversary of the start of organized base ball in the area," explained Greg Shine, Chief Ranger & Historian, "so the match game takes on a special significance."

For the soldiers stationed at the US Army’s Fort Vancouver (later renamed Vancouver Barracks) garrison duty was tedious. Games such as base ball (two words in the nineteenth century) were a welcome relief. Historic records often mention baseball as a form of recreation for the soldiers.

Cranks (1860s term for fans) will experience a game played between soldiers from the Battery F of the Second U.S. Artillery and base ballists (players) on the Occidental Base Ball Club of Vancouver. The teams will play under the National Association of Base Ball Players rules of 1860:

• The ballists play barehanded. No gloves allowed.

• The hurler (pitcher) pitches the ball instead of throwing (underhand not overhand).

• A ball caught on the fly or the first bound (bounce) is an out.

• ‘Fair-fouls’ – Any ball that touches fair territory before going out of the playing field is a live ball.

• No fielder may use his hat to catch the ball.

The match game will be on the historic parade ground near the bandstand and will begin at 6:00 p.m. Period music will be provided by a Civil War-era brass band. Throughout the game the umpire will provide a running narrative, explaining the calls he is making. Also, cranks dressed in period clothes will interact with the modern-day cranks. Refreshments will be available on site. The public is invited to bring lawn chairs or blankets and cold picnic suppers, no cooking please. Traditional baseball food will also be available from the Restaurant on the Reserve cart. The games are free and the public is encouraged to attend.

"People of all ages can enjoy a day of Vintage Base Ball," exclaimed Special Event Program Manager Kimm Fox-Middleton. "Visitors will feel like they have stepped back in time when they see the game played by staff and volunteers dressed in uniforms and playing by the rules of the 1860s. All this while sitting and listening to the wonderful period music; it is a family-friendly event that is not to be missed!"

As part of the anniversary celebration, the Washington State Historical Society’s quarterly journal, Columbia: The Magazine of Northwest History, features an article in the spring issue entitled "On the Fly: The Rise of Base Ball in the Portland-Vancouver Area." Written by the park's Greg Shine, the article explores the roots of the game in 1867, including its organization, structure, personnel, and early match game play.

According to the article, the first organized base ball clubs formed and began match play in Vancouver in the spring of 1867. Long before multi-million dollar salaries and artificial turf, base ball (then two words) was a polite game that "emphasized gentlemanly order and organization, and employed a structure that reinforced and codified it."

One of the earliest organized matches in Vancouver, held on May 11, 1867, brought together two newly-formed local teams. As the Oregon Herald told it, "the first nine of the Garrison Base Ball Club challenged the first nine of the Vancouver Club to play a match game for the championship." The Garrison club won handily, 45-5, which the Herald commented, "…is a pretty bad flaxing."

Carrying on this celebration throughout the summer, Fort Vancouver NHS will continue its summer vintage base ball events with the final game of the season on August 18, 2007, at the same time and location.

"The year 2007 is an especially significant one for the fort, the Historic Reserve, the city, and the region," noted Tracy Fortmann, superintendent. "Not only is 2007 the 150th birthday of the City of Vancouver, it is also the 60th anniversary of the initiation of archaeological investigation at the fort. Having an additional anniversary to celebrate – especially one as popular today as baseball – demonstrates the community’s breadth of historical significance."

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact the Visitor Center Information Desk at 360-816-6230 or Kimm Fox-Middleton at 360-816-6243.

ONLINE RESOURCES: As background, a recent in-depth study of base ball in Vancouver can be accessed on Fort Vancouver’s "Online Historical Studies" web page at: https://www.nps.gov/fova/historyculture/historical-studies.htm.

In addition, photos from past events are available at https://www.nps.gov/fova/photosmultimedia/index.htm.

BACKGROUND: Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service, is at 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.



Last updated: February 28, 2015

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