NEWTOWN BOROUGH >> After a year’s absence, vintage baseball will return to Pickering Field at Jefferson and North Chancellor streets on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31.
The borough council gave its unanimous approval to the game at its April 13 meeting provided that all pandemic protocols in place at the time of the game are followed.
“This is something we started doing back in 2009 and it has been well received by the community. We think it will be a very good thing to hold, especially this year,” Kevin O’Shea of the Council Rock Newtown Athletic Association told Council.
The step back in time begins at 12:30 p.m. with the posting of the colors by the American Legion Post 440 Color Guard and the singing of the National Anthem and God Bless America.
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 ball game played by 1864 rules.
“This has always been an excellent community event that we have always had a good time with,” said Mayor Swartz. “The outfield is always very well attended. It’s something that really brings the community together. This will hopefully bring some sense of normalcy back to the Memorial Day holiday.”
“It made me very happy to see that application,” agreed Council President Tara Grunde-McLaughlin.
The game typically follows the town’s Memorial Day Parade, which won’t be taking place this year due to uncertainties with the ongoing pandemic. The parade is organized by the Newtown American Legion.
The original Neshanock ball club was established in July 1866 in Flemington, NJ, and was comprised mainly of the town’s prominent citizens.
The Neshanock were apparently not very skilled ballists and often lost to their chief rival, the Lambertville Logan, by the not-very-competitive scores of 77-25 and 71-47.
Unfortunately, no records of the Neshanock are available 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 (Pickering Field) 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.
During the seventh inning, the poem “Casey at the Bat” will be read and everyone will have a chance to stretch. The game will also include the traditional singing of the baseball anthem, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
The event is free and open to the public.
In other borough news, Council has given its approval for the following special events:
- A performance of "Jesus Christ Superstar - the Musical," sponsored by A Love for Life, on Saturday, May 1 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Linton Memorial Park at Lincoln Avenue and Penn Street. The rain date is the following day. A Love for Life is a nonprofit organization based in Newtown dedicated to raising funds for pancreatic cancer research.
- Market Day, sponsored by the Newtown Historic Association, on Saturday, October 2 from 10 a.m. and 5 p.m on Court Street between Centre Avenue and Mercer Street, Centre Avenue between Congress Street and State Street, and Mercer Street. No rain date. Market Day is an annual outdoor event that celebrates the colonial tradition of local farmers and homesteaders bringing their crops, livestock and homemade wares into town to sell to neighbors and townspeople. The event features high-quality crafters, artisans and fine artists; colonial-era demonstrations, reenactments and activities; farm stands; entertainment for all ages; and food from local restaurants.