Lewes team goes back to baseball roots

No mitts, no bunting among vintage game rules
Lewes players John Kennedy, left, and Nick Benz get a Milford player caught in a run down between first and second. BY RON MACARTHUR
June 26, 2013

Under a hot, summer-like sun June 9, the Lewes Vintage Base Ball Club dropped a doubleheader to visiting Milford, 9-3 and 13-9. The losses temporarily knocked Lewes out of the top spot in the Mid-Atlantic Vintage Base Ball League.

Lewes started vintage baseball play four years ago when Lewes Historical Society Executive Director Mike DiPaolo organized a team to play exhibition games.

The earliest known reference to date of baseball in Lewes is from February 1874 when a match pitting Lewes against Milton was advertised for March 1, 1874. Unfortunately the outcome of that contest is not known, DiPaolo said.

Lewes has a team in the Eastern Shore Baseball League in the early and mid-20th century.

Teams play by 1864 rules that have several differences from modern-day baseball. Most notably is players do not use gloves to catch the ball, which is softer than current baseballs. Also, players can catch fly balls – including foul balls – on one bounce for an out. Bunting is not permitted; pitchers throw underhand; batters are called strikers; and strikes are called when a striker does not attempt to swing the bat after a warning from the umpire, DiPaolo said.

A strong emphasis is placed on stealing and hitting hard grounders to advance runners, he said.

The Lewes club plays its home games at the University of Delaware Lewes campus near the Virden Conference Center grounds at 700 Pilottown Road.
 The next home game is Sunday. Aug. 18, against Athletic Club of Philadelphia. The team is sponsored by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.