PRAIRIE GROVE – The McHenry County Historical Society and the Grayslake Heritage Center are teaming up once again to host a Civil War-era baseball game Sunday.
The free event will start at 2 p.m. at Village Hall Park, off Barreville and Ames roads in Prairie Grove.
The McHenry County Independants – who were an actual team of that era – will face off against the Grayslake Athletics. The old-fashioned experience will be umpired and emceed by Dave Oberg, the executive director of the Grayslake Heritage Center.
“The rules were wildly different back then,” Oberg said. “And it’s a very fast-moving game.”
Baseball during the Victorian era is not what people are used to seeing on TV today. During Civil War-era baseball, players did not use gloves, a ball caught on its first bounce was still considered an out, and a fair or foul ball was determined based on where it first touched the ground.
“If you really want to see the spirit of the game and the way the game was played, there’s really nothing like this,” Oberg said. “It’s a really different kind of baseball you’re used to today. This is when baseball was considered a gentleman’s game.”
Oberg also will teach the audience how to properly cheer for the two ball clubs in 19th-century, Victorian-era fashion. At that time, baseball was spelled “base ball,” fans were called “kranks” or “bugs,” a “willow” referred to a baseball bat, a “dish” referred to home plate, and some people called a baseball an “onion,” “apple,” “horsehide” or “pill.”
Those planning to watch the game are asked to bring their own chairs or a blanket to sit on and refreshments.
“It’s very family friendly, and there’s a lot of good showmanship that goes with this,” Oberg said.
Players will be wearing a white, long-sleeved shirt, dark pants, dark shoes and a painter’s style cap to simulate the look of the vintage uniforms from back then.
A rematch between the two teams will take place Aug. 26 in Grayslake.
“The scores have really seesawed back and forth quite a bit over the last few seasons,” Oberg said. “So you’re going to see a really spirited game.”