By RHEA-FRANCES TETLEY
Both local teams of the SoCal Vintage Base Ball League played two weekends ago in the semifinal rounds for the opportunity to play in the final championship game of the season. The teams play by 1886 rules and use replica equipment.
The Crestline Highlanders played in Temecula on Saturday, Sept. 24, defeating the first-place Dear Bros for a championship slot with a score of 13 to 6. The Highlanders came to play, scored first and stayed ahead the entire game. The Highlanders kept the Dear Bros from scoring in five out of the seven innings, while the Highlanders scored in six out of seven innings, so the Highlanders are playing in the championship game on Oct. 8. They didn’t know who they would play until the other semifinal game was decided the next day.
On Sunday, Sept. 24, the Lake Arrowhead Loggers played the Perris Prospectors at Harich Field in Twin Peaks in a tense and close match, as both wanted the remaining spot in the championship game. If the Loggers won, then the championship game would be played at Harich Field, the home field for both the Highlanders and Loggers. If the Prospectors won, then the Highlanders would be playing in the championship game down the hill in potentially hot Perris.
The Loggers were the first to score in the bottom of the first inning, by a home run hit out of the park. The entire game was well played and tight. By the end of the seventh inning, which is usually the end of the game, the Prospectors and Loggers were tied with 13 runs each, sending the game into extra innings. Because the chalk scoreboard only has room for seven innings, the Sir (Umpire Darren McCanne) decided to wipe the chalk scoreboard clear to go into the extra innings. He placed the score from the first seven innings in the spot for the first inning and placed inning 8 in the second inning spot.
In the top of the eighth inning, the Prospectors scored a run, forcing the Loggers to score or lose. In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Loggers scored two runs, cinching their spot in the championship game, which at this time is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 8 at Harich Field.
A high point for the SoCal Vintage Base Ball League is that the Los Angeles Times newspaper sent reporters to both semifinal games with both modern digital cameras and an 1880s antique bellow 8×10 format camera made in Rochester, N.Y. They are scheduled to also attend the championship game. They plan to showcase the SoCal Vintage Base Ball League in a couple of news articles, which they believe will lead to an expansion of the number of teams and promote the entire league next season, when people learn more about the history, the joy and the games.
There is a whole culture and language that surrounds the vintage games, plus the teams are serious and play to win. The players use replica 1886 uniforms and playing equipment, their wooden bats are heavier than current day bats and they play with the same handmade ball, which gets softer as the game progresses, unless it is lost in the forest when hit as a foul or as an out-of-the-park home run. Of course, because the replica balls are expensive, ball boys go out to look for the balls in the forest and they are returned into play.
Rule wise, it is seven balls before the hitter is walked, but three strikes and they’re out. The hurlers also rotate to another position when they tire of pitching. They play with leather gloves, not mitts, meaning very few hit flyballs are caught for an out.
Be sure to attend the free championship game, tentatively scheduled for Twin Peaks’ Harich Field, between the Crestline Highlanders and the Arrowhead Loggers on Oct. 8. This is a family-friendly event. Check Vaudeville Baseball on Instagram for up-to-date standings and pre-game details and game time.
The Prospectors up to bat in the Sept. 25 game at Harich Field; he struck out. (Photo by Rhea-Frances Tetley)
The extra inning score board for the tied game between the Loggers and Prospectors. (Photo by Rhea-Frances Tetley)
The scoreboard for the game between the Highlanders and the Temecula Dear Bros played on Sept. 24. (Contributed photo)