This past weekend we loaded up the kids and headed over to Greenfield Village (Henry Ford's more-boring version of Disneyland) to watch some Olde-Timey baseball. I thought it would be fun to sit around watching Olde-Timey baseball, but apparently the kids thought it would be more fun to travel around the village in Olde-Timey cars, horse-drawn wagons, and the steam engine train than watch a bunch of hefty gents sweating in heavy woolens. Luckily I was able to meet up with some friends at the Eagle Tavern who enjoyed jokes about union suits and waxed mustaches.
Greenfield Village fields two full Olde-Timey baseball squads, the Nationals and the La De Das. I don't know if they have actual tryouts, but presume the main barrier to participation is the cost of those custom-made nineteenth century uniforms. The players follow the "official" rules from the 1860s; they may have been pitching underhand, but they were catching the baseball without gloves. We wondered if they wore porcelain cups. I used my phone to google when were jock straps invented. It turns out if these guys were keeping it real, there was nothing between that grounder and their gonads other than a rubberized canvas modesty girdle.
I wondered if the Nationals ended up winning the game, would they pour that giant jug of unpasteurized milk over the head of their coach? Sadly, I never got to find out because the La De Das emerged as victors after overcoming a five point deficit in the late innings.
I was pretty excited to see that they rustled up a street urchin to sell programs:
The game had to stop every time the train steamed across the outfield. All the players waved their hats and shouted "Huzzah!" at the iron horse.
My friend and I decided that someday, if we were both in town and able to grow formidable mustaches, we were going to try out for the team.
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The next day (father's day), during my son's nap, my daughter and I walked over to Comerica Park to see if we could get into the sold-out game in the middle of the fourth inning. This was something we used to do all the time when it was just the two of us, but we hadn't been to a game together in years. This time we walked hand-in-hand all the way to the ballpark. A scalper sold us a $50 ticket for $20 and we ended up so close to home plate we could feel the rush of air from Miguel Cabrera's mighty swing:
During the baseball game I was able to explain to her for the first time how the game actually works, how the pitcher tries to trick the batter and the little details that seem so nonsensical at first, like force outs and balls caught in foul territory. The day was hot and sweaty, and she giggled when I held a glass of lemonade filled with ice against her cheeks.
By the eighth inning, we'd already stood up and cheered for the home runs that put the Tigers in the lead, and she'd run out of questions about wild pitches and stolen bases. I gave her my phone to play some games and she made it through the Tigers' victory in the ninth and was able to run the bases once the players cleared the field:
Lately, her best friend has been playing a lot of baseball and he's pretty great at hitting the ball for a four-year-old. Because of this, she gets jealous, and that makes her want to practice, which is something I never would have forced upon her. Funny how that works. We stopped at a thrift store on Monday and picked up a cheap plastic bat and a couple of kid-sized mitts, and we've practiced hitting every day since.
Who knows? Maybe someday she can stick her hair up into her hat, stuff her cheek with chaw, and step into the batter's box for the mighty La De Das.
Dodge Caravan recently contacted us about sponsoring a few of these posts by buying the ads you see around them (full disclosure: they did not provide any vehicles or compensate us for any costs involved). Check out the links to learn more about the new Dodge Caravan, big enough to carry an entire Olde-Timey baseball team on a barnstorming tour across the Midwest and enough technology inside to convince them it's something right out of a Jules Verne novel.
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