Cape Gazette

Lewes team goes back to baseball roots

No mitts, no bunting among vintage game rules
Jun 26, 2013
Photo by: Ron MacArthur Lewes players John Kennedy, left, and Nick Benz get a Milford player caught in a run down between first and second.

Under a hot, summer-like sun June 9, the Lewes Vintage Base Ball Club dropped a doubleheader to visiting Milford, 9-3 and 13-9. The losses temporarily knocked Lewes out of the top spot in the Mid-Atlantic Vintage Base Ball League.

Lewes started vintage baseball play four years ago when Lewes Historical Society Executive Director Mike DiPaolo organized a team to play exhibition games.

The earliest known reference to date of baseball in Lewes is from February 1874 when a match pitting Lewes against Milton was advertised for March 1, 1874. Unfortunately the outcome of that contest is not known, DiPaolo said.

Lewes has a team in the Eastern Shore Baseball League in the early and mid-20th century.

Teams play by 1864 rules that have several differences from modern-day baseball. Most notably is players do not use gloves to catch the ball, which is softer than current baseballs. Also, players can catch fly balls – including foul balls – on one bounce for an out. Bunting is not permitted; pitchers throw underhand; batters are called strikers; and strikes are called when a striker does not attempt to swing the bat after a warning from the umpire, DiPaolo said.

A strong emphasis is placed on stealing and hitting hard grounders to advance runners, he said.

The Lewes club plays its home games at the University of Delaware Lewes campus near the Virden Conference Center grounds at 700 Pilottown Road.
 The next home game is Sunday. Aug. 18, against Athletic Club of Philadelphia. The team is sponsored by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.


Lewes Vintage Base Ball
(Video by: Ron MacArthur)
Milford catcher Adam "Doc" Davis holds on to the ball to get an out at home after tagging the sliding Casey Warner of Lewes. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Umpire Mike Read stands beside the batter and not behind him. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Lewes pitcher Matt DeEmedio lets one fly during the first game of a June 9 double header. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Lewes players watch the action during a game at the Virden Center. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
It's close, but no out. Lewes' John Kennedy takes the throw at second with back up from Joe Walls. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Aaron Block says put that in the book after he successfully steals third base. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
In a scene that reminds of yesteryear, Steve Scharf stands ready to bat. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Lewes Historical Society Executive Director Mike DiPaolo catches for Lewes. He was the driving force behind creating a team from Lewes to play in the Mid-Atlantic Vintage Base Ball League. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Wooden bats are at the ready for the Lewes team. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Drinking tins have the nicknames of the players. It was customary for players to use nicknames when they played during the early years of the sport. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Matt DeEmedio tells a runner to try for home plate after a Lewes hit. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
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