Aaron Green / Lantern reporter
For about two hours, Party lines did not matter in the Ohio General Assembly and about 30 Ohio lawmakers on the Statehouse lawn, Republican or Democrat, had the same agenda – beat the Village Muffins.
About 23 members of the Ohio House of Representatives and six members of the Ohio Senate competed in a vintage “base ball” game Tuesday against the Ohio Village Muffins, a vintage “base ball” club in Columbus.
Teaming up as the “Capitol Cannons,” Ohio’s state senators and representatives fell to the Village Muffins, 12-10.
The second annual competition brought Ohio’s lawmakers together, regardless of party or chamber affiliations, to celebrate the Ohio Statehouse and its history.
“We started (the event) last year for the 150th anniversary of the Statehouse,” said Rep. Michael Stinziano, D-25th House District. “It’s an opportunity to play with our colleagues, break down some of those barriers and work in a bipartisan manner. We’ve got both Republicans and Democrats playing and it’s an opportunity to get to know each other better.”
Other players agreed.
“It’s great to get out here on the baseball diamond,” said Sen. Frank LaRose, R-27th Senate District. “Not only to celebrate the Ohio Statehouse, but also have a little bipartisan camaraderie and camaraderie between the House and the Senate. That’s always a good thing.”
The game Assembly members played was not the game many people think of when hearing the word baseball. Vintage “base ball,” which used to be spelled with two words, refers to the way the game was played more than 150 years ago.
It’s played with 1860s rules, uniforms, equipment and most importantly to vintage players, etiquette.
“First off, we all play like gentleman – we don’t swear and we don’t spit,” said Dale Brandon, 21-year-veteran vintage “base ball.” “There’s still nine innings, nine position players and the called third strike. What’s different is we play without gloves. We don’t use them at all.”
David “Crazy-Legs” Bowling, member of the Ohio Village Muffins, said in the early 1860s it was illegal to have any type of padding on a ballplayer’s hands. Therefore, he said, staying true to the “purest form of baseball,” vintage players do not wear gloves.
Other differences between present-day baseball and vintage “base ball” include pitching delivery, recording an out and terminology.
By vintage rules, the pitcher or “hurler” delivers the ball underhand to the batter or “striker.” An out is made or a “hand is lost,” if the ball is caught on the fly or on the first bounce.
LaRose said he had not heard of vintage “base ball” before playing in last year’s game. He said because the game is played by their rules, the Village Muffins have an advantage in the matchup.
“There’s really interesting rules that you have to learn when you’re playing vintage ‘base ball,’ and you can see that by our play out there,” he said with a grin. “The members of the General Assembly are not always as versed in the vintage rules as the Ohio Village Muffins are, so it makes for an interesting dynamic for the game.”
Although the game against the Capitol Cannons was only an exhibition game, the Village Muffins said they enjoyed playing on the Statehouse lawn.
“It was interesting to meet representatives and senators, personally,” Bowling said. “It’s a fun way to celebrate vintage ‘base ball’ and the Statehouse.”
Assembly members said they also like playing in the annual game against the Village Muffins.
“The Muffins are a tough, professional vintage team to compete with, but it’s always fun,” Stinziano said. “We’re learning and improving every year.”
LaRose said he enjoyed the location of the game.
“It’s always great to get out here on the lawn, welcome the city to come out and see us play baseball and have a little bit of good natured competition,” LaRose said. “It’s a great time and a tradition I think we need to continue.”
Partnered with the Ohio Historical Society, the Ohio Village Muffins play about 40 games a year against other vintage “base ball” clubs in Ohio and the Midwest. Their next scheduled game is at 2 p.m. on Sunday against the Columbus Buckeyes.