Vintage Base Ball Game June 19

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PRAIRIE GROVE – Can you "put the willow on the onion?"

The McHenry County Historical Society's "Independants" base ball club will host the McLean County Prairie Chickens at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 19, in a Civil War-era tilt. The match will be played in Village Hall Park in Prairie Grove – located at Ames and Barreville roads, east of Route 31 and north of Route 176. The two clubs will play according to 1858 rules, which differed significantly from modern baseball. Players did not use gloves. A ball caught on the first bounce was considered an out and a ball was considered fair or foul based solely on where it first touched the ground. Fans, called “kranks” or “bugs” at the time, should bring their own chairs or a blanket to sit on, and be mindful of social distancing from others to ensure everyone's safety.

For information contact historical society administrator Kurt Begalka at 815-923-2267.

•••

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to play baseball in the Civil War era, now’s your chance.

The McHenry County Historical Society invites prospective players on its vintage baseball team to practice with the “Club Nine” at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 5, in Prairie Grove.

Formed in 2013, the McHenry County “Independants” (spelled that way in a newspaper article more than 150 years ago) follow 1858 rules. That means no gloves, lemon-peel baseballs (stitches meet at the top), no pitched balls from the “hurler” and called strikes only if “striker” swings and misses. A ball caught on the first bounce is considered an out and a ball is ruled fair or foul based solely on where it first touches the ground.

All we ask is that you are fit enough to run the bases (even slowly, for you “ice wagons!”) and commit to two exhibition games each season – the first of which is at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 19, at Village Hall Park in Prairie Grove.

The Independants are hosting the McLean County Prairie Chickens.
Fans – called kranks, bugs or rooters –  are encouraged to use the terminology of the time, telling the players to “lay that willow on that onion” and “hit the apple out of the orchard.”

Those interested should contact historical society administrator Kurt Begalka at kurt@mchenrycountyhistory.org or call the office 815-923-2267.