GIBSON CITY - A baseball game to be played Sept. 12 at McMillan Field, just east of Gibson City’s North Park, will pay homage to how baseball once was played and will include some unusual sights.
Wearing no gloves (those appeared in the 1890s with the Cincinnati Red Stockings), sunglasses or other protective game gear and playing with wooden bats, this version of America’s favorite pastime might cause some double takes.
The Gibson City sesquicentennial committee is presenting the vintage baseball game. It’s part of a series of events being held to celebrate the town’s 150th birthday.
The transport back into athletic time will feature a 3:30 p.m. “base ball” (the way the term was spelled before the 1880s) contest between the Gibson City Guys and the Springfield Long Nine. Terms that fans may hear the players use include “hurler” — that would be the pitcher — and “strikers” instead of batters.
The Springfield Long Nine was formed in 2008 and takes its name from a nickname given to Abraham Lincoln and eight others who represented Sangamon County in the Illinois General Assembly during the 1836 to 1837 legislative sessions. All the men were at least 6 feet tall and held similar political viewpoints.
Members of the Gibson City Guys are coach Christian Rosenbeck, Connor Rosenbeck, Culton Rosenbeck, Jamie Sexton, Wade McGuire, Bob Huppert, Dustin White, Joe Jones, Jimmy Jones, Michael Romshek, Bill Huppert, Chris Murray, and manager Jon Rosenbeck.
The Civil War-era game will have 19th century-style rules put in place by the Vintage Base Ball Association: a larger, heavier and softer ball; no called balls or strikes (those came about in the 1870s) and outs that come on the fly or after a player catches the ball on one hop, among others. Pitchers also throw the ball underhand. Players who cuss will face a 25-cent fine.
Organizer Sharon Heavilin said the event came about as a result of an idea-sharing meeting for all small towns hosted by the Steidinger sisters from Fairbury. Dan Kearfott of Kearfott Graphix is screen printing the uniforms for the Gibson City Guys.
Refreshments, snacks and sesquicentennial items will be available for purchase during the game.
The game will follow an old-fashioned hymn sing at 2 p.m. at the North Park pavilion, as well as an ice cream social with pies and ice cream presented by the Gibson City Ministerial Committee. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.
The Finn Fairley Fundraising Committee will draw the winner of the 2022 E-Z-Go gas golf cart that they are raffling at the event. Tickets, which are $20 each or six for $100, are available to buy up until the drawing that day at Bradbury Auto Sales, Moyer Library and from Billie Jo Denny at 217-722-5345 or Susie Tongate at 309-825-0311.
Farley is a 7-year-old Gibson City resident fighting leukemia.
During Harvest Fest on Sept. 10 and 11, there will be an Old Fashioned Parade to kick off Saturday morning activities, a Longest Beard Contest and a Vegetable Growing Contest with recognition for the largest potato, pumpkin, squash or tomato.