There’s A Vintage ‘Base Ball’ League In The Bay That Plays According To 1886 Rules

Jamie Ferrell Jamie Ferrell

There’s A Vintage ‘Base Ball’ League In The Bay That Plays According To 1886 Rules

They use authentic equipment, etiquette, and rules according to the 1886 Spalding Guide.

What do you get when you cross sports with a Civil War reenactment? This vintage “base ball” league in the Bay Area seems like a good bet! Bay Area Vintage Base Ball (BAVBB) is a non-profit organization consisting of ten 12-member clubs from across the Bay who strive for the utmost historical accuracy when playing vintage base ball. Players wear reproduction 1880s uniforms, and the game is played with reproduction balls, bases, gloves, and more to create a fun and credible educational experience.

The amateur league of BAVBB is currently on its 15th year and halfway through the season. The San Francisco Pacifics lead the league with 6 straight wins, with the Dublin Aces and Berkeley Clarions close behind! The 2021 season is happening almost every Sunday through October, when the top teams will face off at the Golden Gate Cup. Here’s the schedule if you’re hoping to catch a game.

Vintage base ball is of course a precursor to today’s modern-day baseball, with a few essential differences. BAVBB plays according to the 1886 Spalding Guide, meaning there are no batting gloves; foul balls (called “unfair balls”) don’t count as strikes; and seven balls, rather than four, earn a walk. Umpires wear a full suit with tails and a top hat, and must be addressed as “Sir.” You can get an idea from this old Conan O’Brien remote from 2004, in which he plays according to 1864 rules with a vintage base ball league in New York.


BAVBB plays real baseball games, and each team plays to win, so this is not technically a reenactment. That said, it’s an amateur league whose goal is to have fun and celebrate the history of baseball. Players between 18 -50 years old are invited to participate, and they pretty much accept anyone with a good attitude! If you want to get in on the fun, learn more here!


Featured image: Vintage base ball at Golden Gate Park. Tom Hilton via Flickr

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