Throwback jerseys were in style Sunday as a group of former Gaylord Islanders played the St. Croix Baseball Club in a vintage baseball game. The Gaylord team included: front, left to right, Jeff Messner, Brent Kuphal, Mike Max, Doug Walsh, Shane Grams and Steve Grams (team captain); back, left to right, Mike Walsh, Ron Dietz, Charlie Peik, Bill Walsh, Kevin Martens, Chip Wolverton and Doug Flieth.
“This is great.” “A lot of fun.” “Neat.” Those comments were repeated numerous times by fans and players Sunday during a vintage baseball game played on Gaylord’s Walsh Field.
Nearly 300 fans turned out to watch the St. Croix Baseball Club take on a team of former Islanders in a match which emulated how the game was played in the 1860’s.
Players were not allowed to use gloves for the vintage match. Yes, it was called a match in the 1860’s, not a game. And, the batter Sunday was referred to as a “striker.”
Other unique rule variations for the vintage game Sunday included: catch the ball on one bound and it is an out; no over running bases; it was the batter’s preference as to where the pitcher was to deliver the ball.
A man with a top hat and black suit served as the umpire for the game. His primary duty appeared to be ruling on fair or foul balls.
While going over the rules with the team of former Islanders, the umpire said it was a “gentlemen’s game” in the 1860’s and not so much for competition. Disputes were settled between opposing players or captains, he explained. It didn’t happen Sunday, but fans are sometimes asked to rule on a disputed call.
The umpire was also in charge of handing out fines during play. Steve Grams, Gaylord’s captain, was fined for wearing shorts on the playing field. Gaylord player Mike Max was fined for spitting on the field. Both of those actions were seen as disrespectful to women attending the game.
Uniforms brought back memories for many in attendance Sunday. Gaylord’s team donned jerseys from several different eras of Islanders baseball starting from the 1960’s. The St. Croix team meanwhile came dressed in white, long sleeve tops, blue pants and blue hats.
Sunday’s match appeared to be a fitting way to cap Gaylord’s Eggstravaganza and 125th anniversary celebration.
“It was a great time,” said Doug Walsh who played for the Islanders for 25 years. “I didn’t know what to expect right away but it turned out to be a lot of fun. It was interesting to see how the game got started.”
Gaylord’s team scored the first two runs of the game Sunday but eventually fell to St. Croix 5-4.
The day of vintage baseball at Walsh Field will be featured in an upcoming episode of Mike Max’s show “Life to the Max.” This show airs Saturdays at 11:00 p.m. on WCCO (channel 4). Watch The Gaylord Hub for further updates on when the vintage baseball episode will air.