Many organizations have annual company baseball games, but few do it like Fort Vancouver.
Every year, employees and volunteers at the fort play a game of base ball. In keeping with the nature of the National Historic Site, though, they wear 1860s uniforms and play by 1860s rules. Among other things, that means the umpire doesn’t call any balls or strikes—the batter (or “striker,” as they were called) is free to take as many pitches as he likes, until he hits it or misses three times. In fact, the pitcher is supposed to deliver the ball—underhand, of course—where the batter asks for it.
And if a fly ball bounces in front of the outfielder? No problem: if they catch it on the first bounce it’s still an out (although runners don’t have to tag up if you let it bounce). Good thing, too, because baseball gloves hadn’t been invented yet.
The Fort Vancouver game has been held annually for about 10 years. When I attended the 2007 game, there were only 100 or so fans in attendance. I don’t know whether that was related to the grey, drizzly weather that day, but the weather and attendance were much better for this year’s game. A couple hundred people from infants to seniors lined the sides of the field with lawn chairs, blankets, and picnic baskets. Perrie and I joined them.
For this edition of the continuing series between the Occidentals (Vancouver townsfolk) and the Shermans (Fort Vancouver soldiers), we were primarily spectators. But, of course, I brought my camera along. And I figured a vintage baseball game deserved a vintage photo treatment.