Forget the recent rulebook revisions governing base-running during double play situations. Send the DH to the bench; leave the protective helmets in the equipment locker — and if you’re pitching today, be prepared to hurl a complete game, or even work every game on the team’s schedule.
When the Monmouth Furnace Base Ball Club takes to the diamond at Little Silver’s Sickles Field this Sunday, the team will be playing by a somewhat different set of rules than the ones that currently apply to professional-league competition.
In fact, they’ll be bypassing the first (circa 1877) standardized National League regulations in favor of the game’s original “Knickerbocker Rules” of 1864— a time of such innovations as the first formal scoring system, the fly-ball out, and a potentially controversial change that required a base runner to actually touch all the bases, in order, as he made his way around the circuit.
Based (at least in a spiritual sense) out of Allaire State Park’s historic village community, the squad formerly known as the “Bog Iron Boys” is one of a loosely knit amateur league of Vintage Base Ball enthusiasts who keep the torch burning for a style of play that hasn’t been in vogue since well before the incorporation of the first “major” league in 1876.
The nine-man team will be facing the Maryland-based Chesapeake Nine, a fellow franchise in the Mid-Atlantic Vintage Base Ball League, in the game that gets underway at 1 p.m. at Sickles Park, just off Rumson Road and adjacent to Sickles Market. Attendees at the free-admission game will have a chance to enjoy a meet-and-greet with the players beginning at 12 noon.
The game’s in conjunction with an open house at the nearby Parker Homestead, the National Historic Site, one of the oldest standing residences in the Garden State, which marked its 350th anniversary in 2015. The doors and grounds of the homestead will be open to the public between 1 and 4 p.m. for tours and an updated look at ongoing restorations, with a special one-day display that features a set of 1909 Philadelphia Caramel Company baseball cards.
As reported a year ago by redbankgreen, the cards were part of a trove of postcards and other paper collectibles once owned by Stan Parker — a collection that had been thought lost for 75 years, until homestead restoration volunteer Liz Hanson discovered its contents “in a closed cookie tin buried in a bag of old letters and postcards.” The tin had been salvaged from the 150-year-old Bates House, a nearby borough-owned property damaged by from a burst water pipe, and among the cards offered for public viewing are two featuring baseball immortal Ty Cobb, as well as one featuring fellow Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson.
Restoration efforts continue apace at the Parker Homestead farmhouse and barns, which were bequeathed to the borough by the Parker family, and which earlier this year received a $5,148 grant from the Monmouth County Historical Commission, to be dedicated toward “east lean-to renovation.”
Check in at the property’s website for updates on the work’s progress, as well as for additional public-welcome special events throughout the year — and contact the Monmouth Furnace ball club via that newfangled series of tubes called the internets, by emailing email@example.com.