Sara Swanson

Vintage baseball to return to Manchester Village

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Vintage baseball in action! Photo courtesy of Joe Christensen.

Vintage baseball in action! Photo courtesy of Joe Christensen.

This summer, during the first week of August, the Village of Manchester will be holding its very own 150th birthday party, the Sesquicentennial. As a part of the week-long celebration, sports and history lovers are planning a vintage baseball tournament made up of local teams. “What local teams?” you ask. The newly appointed Manchester Vintage Baseball Commissioner, Joe Christensen, will soon oversee the formation of these very teams!

Christensen explained, “The most noticeable difference between modern baseball and vintage baseball is the fact that defensive players don’t use baseball gloves. It takes a little practice to learn to field without a glove, but newcomers pick it up quickly. The sport of vintage baseball has become very popular across the US over the last decade. Vintage baseball clubs have sprung up in neighboring communities like Chelsea, Dexter, Saline, and even out in the Irish Hills.

“The upcoming Sesquicentennial celebration provides our community with the perfect opportunity to start our own vintage baseball program,” he added. In fact, what will definitely go down in local vintage baseball history, Manchester will take on the Chelsea Monitors in the “Western Washtenaw 2017 World Series,” on August 5th, 2017 at 4 pm on Kirk Park baseball field.

If you are interested in joining a team, have ideas or suggestions, contact Christensen by emailing him at jvchristensen@gmail.com or calling him at 734-277-9489. In the coming weeks, he will schedule a kick-off meeting as the first step toward getting our 2017 Vintage Baseball Season started. The manager of the Chelsea Monitors Vintage Baseball team will be at the meeting to explain the game of old-time baseball and answer any questions. Team names will also be discussed during the meeting.

Christensen stated, “It’s time for all of you arm-chair athletes to get into the game! Those of you who played softball in years past should think about participating. Wouldn’t it be fun to see our community’s young people out on the field playing some baseball? All are invited, and all are encouraged to participate.”

Vintage baseball is played according to rules that were established and published during the mid-1800s. Christensen stated, “For this summer’s event, we will play baseball using the official 1867 rules. We chose this year because 1867 marks the incorporation of Manchester as a village – our Sesquicentennial starting point.” This interestingly coincides with a vintage baseball event taking place in the greater Manchester area. “The Greenfield Village Official Vintage Baseball Team also plays its games using the 1867 official rule book,” Christensen explained, “ Vintage Baseball USA holds an annual Vintage Baseball World Series, and this year the World Series is scheduled to take place at Greenfield Village during the second week of August. This is the week after our Sesquicentennial celebration.”

KIrk Park Ball Field upgrades. Photo courtesy of Joe Christensen.

KIrk Park Ball Field upgrades. Photo courtesy of Joe Christensen.

Manchester still provides strong support to its youth baseball programs, especially MAYS. In fact, in 2015 a committed group of community supporters funded a complete update of the Kirk Park Baseball Fields. But then, Manchester has a long history of supporting baseball. Christensen related some of this history, “It wasn’t that many years ago that Manchester had a strong network of softball teams that played each other locally, and also traveled to tournaments around Michigan and beyond. Teams were typically sponsored by local businesses and local athletes, both young and old, participated in weekly summer-long softball games. Going back a little further in time, Manchester was also home to a well-known and successful maker of baseball bats. The Manchester Handle Company was located on the south side of Manchester, across the street from the Kirk Park Baseball Fields along Territorial and Clinton. This company produced bats for the American League in the 1910s-1920s.”

Christensen hopes to bring vintage baseball to Manchester this summer and you can help! He stated, “We need your support and really want to hear from you. Let’s support the Manchester community and our Sesquicentennial gathering. This is a great way for you to participate and help out your community.”

Monitor Base Ball Club of Chelsea. Manchester's competition on August 5th this summer! Photo courtesy of Joe Christensen.

Monitor Base Ball Club of Chelsea–Manchester’s competition on August 5th this summer! Photo courtesy of Joe Christensen.

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