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Date: April 24, 2007
Contact: Kimm Fox-Middleton, 360-816-6243
Contact: Douglas Halsey, 360-816-6142

VANCOUVER, WA - On May 12, 2007, the National Park Service at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site (NHS) will kick off the first of several events to celebrate the 140th anniversary of organized base ball in Vancouver and Southwest Washington with a public vintage baseball forum on the historic parade ground at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

The program will include workshops in baseball history, period uniforms and clothing, equipment, the rules of the 1860’s and how to be a proper "crank" or fan of the game. The workshops will run from 4:30 PM until 5:30 PM, at which time a "friendly match" will commence.

People interested in participating in the match game must attend the workshops. Workshop sign-up will be from 4 PM until 4:30 PM only, and you must be at least 16 years old. This event is free, and open to the public. In case of rain, the workshops will be held indoors at the O.O. Howard House and the match game may be cancelled.

As part of the celebration, the Washington State Historical Society’s quarterly journal, Columbia: The Magazine of Northwest History, is featuring 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 chief ranger and historian, 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 season with match games on July 21 and August 18. Match games will be on the historic parade ground near the bandstand and will begin at 6 PM both evenings. 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.

"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, please contact Kimm Fox-Middleton at 360-816-6243 (, Douglas Halsey at 360-816-6242 (, or the Visitor Center Information Desk at 360-816-6230.

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.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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