Vintage baseball players step back in time at old Tiger Stadium site
Rochester Grangers pitcher Harlan 'General' Worden tosses a pitch during
their game against the Walker Tavern Wheels on Sunday, June 2, 2013 at
Bennett Park in Detroit. Some of the vintage rules included strikers
being out if a foul ball was caught on one bounce and the inability to
overrun first base. The Walker Tavern Wheels won the contest 11-10
against the Rochester Grangers. Jarrad Henderson/ Detroit Free Press
7:13 PM, June 2, 2013
By Elisha Anderson
Detroit Free Press Staff Writer
Stepping back nearly 150 years in time, the ballplayers who took to the field Sunday at the old Tiger Stadium site in Detroit’s Corktown played by a vintage set of rules. There were no gloves, no overrunning first base and the pitcher was obligated to throw the ball where the hitter wanted it.
Besides the 1860s rules, players wore vintage uniforms that included knicker-style pants or suspenders, red ribbon bow ties, and a handkerchief tucked in their back pants pockets.
“A lot of us, if not all of us, have been here when the stadium was up,” said player Jim Terwilliger, 37, of Onsted, about 40 miles southwest of Ann Arbor. “Just being able to play on the same field as the greats is phenomenal.”
■ Photos: Vintage baseball at old Tiger Stadium
He’s the cocaptain for the vintage baseball team Walker Tavern Wheels, who play their home games at the Walker Tavern Historic Site in Brooklyn. They took on the Rochester Grangers on Sunday.
The vintage baseball game coincided with the Corktown Historical Home and Garden Tour and the baseball site was one of 16 stops featured.
“It seems only fitting that we would have an old-fashioned game on a historical home tour,” said Ron Cooley who is on the Corktown Historical Society committee.
People watched from the sidelines in lawn chairs, rode their bikes to the field and sat on blankets while the men — ranging in age from 19 to 78 — played.
“It’s very interesting” said Emily Flannery, 65, of Sterling Heights.
She came to watch her nephew play and said it was her first time seeing the style of baseball. The part that stood out: the ability to catch a ball without a glove.
The Walker Tavern Wheels won the game 11-10. It was the first vintage game of the year at the site, but it could become a monthly event, said Tom Derry, founder of the Navin Field Grounds Crew. Members take care of the field by mowing the grass, removing weeds and picking up trash.
“It’s perfect for such a historic corner to have a vintage game like this,” Derry said.
Traditionally players have nicknames such as Crazy Legs, Professor or Nails that often come from their careers or skills, and the names can change over time.
Harlan Worden, 78, of Rochester Hills started out as Peddler because he sold plastics for the automotive industry. Then one game somebody suggested calling him Private. After playing well in a tournament, Private became General, which is what he goes by now.
Contact Elisha Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org