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Are you ready for a trip back into time? When baseball was two words, the field didn’t feature dirt infields and manicured grass. And a foul ball going straight backward was specifically considered a “tick.” Foul balls went forward; ticks went backward.
Welcome to the world of The Wolverines Base Ball Club of Taylor, a 19th century outfit playing in the new millennium. The Wolverines open the home season of throwback base ball against Walker Tavern at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 6, at Heritage Park. They will play their games in the open field at the far south of the park, closest to the Northline Road entrance. That open field is usually used as a practice soccer field. (Complete schedule at bottom of the page).
The roots of the team go back all the way to Saturday, October 5, 1867, when the Star Club of Wyandotte met the Monitor Club of Taylor for a match of base ball. That day the more experienced club from Wyandotte won a sweeping victory against the “green” club from Taylor, beating it 85-15 in just five innings. There is no record of the Monitor Club of Taylor playing again.
One hundred and fifty years later there is another 19th century base ball club in Taylor. With the Monitors name currently being used by a team from Chelsea, Taylor is now the Wolverines Base Ball Club of Taylor.
Michigan is well known as the “The Wolverine State.” The name also honors the Detroit Wolverines, the 19th-century baseball team that played in the National League from 1881 to 1888. The Detroit Wolverines played the first game of major league baseball in Detroit on May 2, 1881.
The Wolverine’s mission is to present the game as it was actually played in the 19th Century while engaging, educating and entertaining spectators. A member of the VBBA (Vintage Base Ball Association), they play by the unrestricted and unmodified rules of 1867. The ongoing mission and purpose of the VBBA is to present the game of base ball “as it was actually played in accordance with the rules, equipment, uniforms, field specifications, customs, practices, language, and behavioral norms of the period.”
Vintage base ball has a look and feel somewhat different from the modern game. More than a century ago, the only player restricted by rule to play in a specific area was the pitcher – when pitching the ball. Other players could position themselves as desired, and were encouraged to position themselves according to the batting habits of the striker. ). Some vintage teams like to play the basemen within a couple of steps of the base, and outfielders in the center of their position.
Except for foul balls (dead ball) runners may lead-off as far as they choose, and run at any time. Runners were sliding in the 1860s. How common, and what method is still unclear. Some vintage clubs choose not to slide at all. Clubs may have rung a bell, or beat a drum, or in some other way celebrated scoring a run. Some clubs may have had a very formal way of reporting to the scorekeeper to be sure that their run was tallied.
2017 Wolverines Schedule:
2 p.m. May 6 - HOME v. Walker Tavern
2 p.m. May 13 - HOME v. Franklins
Noon May 27 - HOME v. Canton (doubleheader)
June 3- Away v. Mount Clemens
June 17 - Away v. Richmond
June 24 - Away v. Bay City and Huntington (doubleheader)
June 25 - Away v. Walker Tavern
July 2 - Away v. Mansfield Shawshank Prison (doubleheader)
July 9 - Away v. Canton
Noon July 29 - HOME v. Fallasburgh Flats (doubleheader)
July 30 - Away v. Early Risers
August 19 – Away v. Huntington, Indiana
Noon Aug 20 - HOME v. Lapeer Tigers and Richmond (doubleheader)
August 26 - Away v. Fallasburgh Flats (in Lowell, doubleheader)
September 3 - Away v. Lapeer
Noon September 16 - HOME v. Bay City (doubleheader)
6 p.m. September 30 - Away v. Topeka/Minnesota at Field of Dreams, Dyersville Iowa (doubleheader)