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by Amy Frank


In 1866, baseball was “base ball”. Uniforms were baggy flannel, balls were handmade, and no one wore gloves; a foul ball was not a strike, and stayed in play even when hit under the bleachers. By 1898, foul balls were still not strikes, but the first baseman and catcher were entitled to wear base ball gloves. While the rules have evolved, baseball today, even with its multi-million dollar salaries and designated hitters, has retained the distinction of the hands-down national pastime. Vintage base ball, complete with 19th-century customs, equipment and rules, will be the featured attraction of Vintage Base Ball at Lyndhurst, on Lyndhurst’s Great Lawn in Tarrytown on Saturday, July 12. Once owned by the Gould family, Lyndhurst, along with a summer house in the Catskill town of Roxbury, passed into the hands of Helen Gould. Eventually, Roxbury became the home of the Roxbury Nine ball club and their Kirkside Park. In the spirit of Helen Gould’s day, the Roxbury Nine, New York Gothams and Hartford Senators will cross bats in an old-time double-header, with period costumes with period rules. Spectators should be aware that authentic player and spectator fines from the 1898 Spaulding Book of Rules will also be in effect: any spectator deliberately obstructing a batted ball or preventing a player from fielding a ball will be fined up to $10 at the umpire’s discretion. Traditional ballpark fare, such as barbecue chicken, frankfurters, fruit pies, ice cream and popcorn, will be available. Other attractions of the day include a high wheel bicyclist, croquet on the lawn, stilt-walking and hoops, an outdoor nature hunt, a stroll through the greenhouse, and a tour of the 1838 gothic revival mansion. Just as the Lyndhurst mansion serves as an example of changing American attitudes toward wealth and status during the 19th century, the same can be said of base ball and its modern-day equivalent, baseball, making the former Gould house an especially appropriate venue. But like the French adage goes, ‘The more things change, the more they remain the same,’ baseball lends a sense of continuity to American popular culture. The grandchild who went to the ballpark with his grandfather is now the grandfather taking his own grandchild out to the ball game, and the debate over the heroics and statistics of yesterday’s players versus today’s will hopefully continue forever. So bring a blanket and your grandfather or sit in the bleachers with your children, and enjoy an old-fashioned afternoon. Advance tickets are $10 adults, $5 children under 12; at the gate, admission is $12 adults, and $5 children under 12. Lyndhurst is located 1/2 mile south of the Tappan Zee Bridge on Route 9 (Broadway) in Tarrytown, and is open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-4:15pm, April 15-October 31; weekends only and holiday Mondays, November 1-mid-April. Tour admission is $10 adults, $9 seniors, $4 students 12-17, free for children under 12 with a paying adult. For more information, call (914) 631-4481 or visit www.lyndhurst.org.


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