NEWTOWN BOROUGH >> Vintage baseball returns to Pickering Field at Jefferson and North Chancellor streets on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27 at Pickering Field.
The step back in time begins at noon with the posting of the colors by the American Legion Post 440 Color Guard and the singing of the National Anthem.
Mayor Charles Swartz will then throw out the first pitch in a game that will see the Newtown Strake take on the visiting Neshanock Base Ball Club of Flemington, N.J. in a vintage 1864 ball game.
The original Neshanock club was established in July 1866 and was comprised mainly of the town’s prominent constituents. The President was George F. Crater, owner of Crater’s Hotel, which was on the spot of what is now the Union Hotel. Some other notable members were E. Vosseller (VP and short stop), R. S. Kuhl (Captain) and E. Page Southwick (Secretary and catcher).
The Neshanock were apparently not very skilled ballists and often lost to their chief rivals, the Lambertville Logan, by the not-very-competitive scores of 77-25 and 71-47. Unfortunately, no records of the Neshanock are apparent after August 1867.
Today’s Neshanock were re-established in 2001 by Brad “Brooklyn” Shaw, proudly reviving the original name of the team (but hopefully not imitating their base ball skills).
“The Neshanock play about 45 games a year and this is their favorite venue by far. They tell us that every year. They love coming back,” said Bob Musto, of the Council Rock Newtown Athletic Association, which organizes the game.
The teams will play by 19th century rules - pitching is underhand; players are not allowed to overrun first base; three balls are a walk; and catching the ball on one bounce is considered an out, although not a “manly” out.
“It’s an absolute blast to play,” says Musto, a member of the Strakes and the Vice President of the Council Rock Newtown Athletic Association, which has organized the game for the past decade. “Some of the guys we play against are 75 or 80 years old. It’s truly amazing to me how good they are, how athletic and how skilled they are at the game.
“And to be at Pickering Field on Memorial Day and to play before the crowds that we get, it’s really an awesome, awesome day,” said Musto.
Refreshments will be sold at the fields concession stand. And during the seventh inning, the poem “Casey at the Bat” will be read and everyone will have a chance to stretch.
The event is free and open to the public.