Members of the Kent Base Ball Club wait for their turn at bat during the game. (Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)
Detroit— No gloves. No spitting. And no shortage of good old-fashioned baseball fun Sunday at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.
But instead of the Detroit Tigers taking on an American League Central Division rival, the Rochester Grangers and the Kent Base Ball Club faced off in “the gentlemanly” sport as it was played in the 1860s. The Kents beat the Grangers, 13-10.
The free vintage baseball game at what was once known as Navin Field was one of the highlightsof the Corktown Historical Society’s annual home and garden tour.
“It’s fun,” said Bill Holt, 69, of Troy, who had taken the Corktown tour and stopped by to see some of the game with his wife, Maggie, and their friends Paul and Rosie Pabian.
The quartet was among a few dozen fans watching the ballgame. Many brought lawn chairs and coolers. Others took seats on a couple of picnic tables. The Holts and Pabians stood behind the backstop.
Unlike today’s version of America’s pastime, the players don’t wear gloves.
“Just the fact they’re playing without mitts and catching like a regular game is impressive,” Holt said. “Maybe the Tigers should try it.”
Also, there aren’t any fences in vintage baseball, and pitchers throw underhand.
Umpires often roam the sidelines giving “warnings,” rather than making calls from behind the plate.
The Rochester Grangers’ players are all members of the Vintage Base Ball Association. They have nicknames like “Slappy,” “Steam Engine” and “Scrap Iron.”
The team’s home field is on the grounds of the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm.
The opposition, the Kents, hails from Grand Rapids. Its players have aliases like “Buzzsaw,” “Powder Keg” and “Steam Train.”
The Tigers left Tiger Stadium after the 1999 season and moved into Comerica Park. The stadium was torn down starting in 2008, and various plans to redevelop the site have failed to come to fruition.