The Stogies of Santa Clara and the Bootleggers of the Bay Area entertained a fine group of men, women and children who gathered at Washington Park. The teams put forth a mighty effort and played seven innings of their Vintage Baseball World Series with nary a complaint.
The umpire was asked one time if he might confer over a disputed call which occurred at home plate. The Bootleggers' catcher insisted that he properly tagged out the Stogies' runner before home plate was touched.
Being a fair and proper arbitrator, the umpire brought both captains to the plate for a discussion. In fairness, the umpire asked the crowd to participate in the decision, and the cranks responded their preference in loud voices.
After considering all parties, the umpire determined the runner had, indeed, crossed home plate fairly and awarded the ace to the Stogies, which turned out to be the winning score in the Stogies' well-earned 9-6 decision against their honorable competitors.
The tally keeper gave 15 hits to the Stogies and 11 hits to the Bootleggers. The base tenders and scouts from both sides delivered like the artists they have been called. The rovers handled both bug bruisers and daisy cutters with ease. The behinds chased unfair hits with ginger.
Mike "Tiny" Felder was declared the Most Valuable Player of the contest, and losing hurler Brian "Lightning" Hunter did not protest.
Famous ballists Mike "The Remedy" Remlinger, Kevin "World" Mitchell, Mark "Hard Hittin" Whitten, Dmitri "Da Meat Hook" Young and Fred "The Edge" Breining also took their turns in the striker's box or hurler's box.
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Dr. John Eliot founded and serves as chairman of Vintage 9 Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history of the game, ensuring the game and its retired, legendary players remain relevant to today's youth, and raising money to support children in need.
"Often, there is nothing a veteran player can do to preserve the history, and they weren't recognizable to today's youth," said Eliot, who started the program in 2009. "We wanted to create a free forum to bring the old guys back into relevance to new fans."
The foundation runs the Vintage World Series based entirely on baseball rules from 1886. Fouls (unfair hits) are not counted as strikes, the batter (striker) selects his own strike zone, there is no such thing as a hit-by-pitch, nor are errors assigned. If you reach base safely, it's a hit.
The pitcher (hurler) can stand where he wants within one foot of the rubber, quick pitch and throw out a runner even on a foul ball. The infield fly rules does not exist, teams are allowed one base coach, though that person can move freely between first and third, and there is one umpire, who stands away from the plate.
The former Major Leaguers are generally contacted by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association and are involved in foundation work or youth clinics.
"I knew John from college and I was doing clinics through the Players Association," Remlinger said. "I met Brian Hunter, who has his own foundation and does clinics all over the place in the summer, and things came together."
After running one weekend series in each of the first two years, Eliot has expanded to two series the past three years. He's doubling it for next year, with stops scheduled at Fenway Park and Dodger Stadium.
"We usually like using small parks," Eliot said. "Next year will be the first in a bigger stadium. The one at Fenway will be a game between the locals and the legends. The locals will all be sponsors or did something for the Red Sox for the right to meet their heroes. The legends will all be former Red Sox players."
The formula is simple: Kids get to watch the players their fathers and mothers grew up cheering; dads and moms also show up, bringing their childhood memories with them.
And, says Remlinger, "It's great to get together and tell stories." This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.