House of David plays seventh annual game against PennPublished 9:51pm Wednesday, September 4, 2013
VANDALIA — “Cranks” (fans) filled the stands for Friday’s seventh annual base ball exhibition between the House of David Echoes and Penn Township Fire Department at the 1991 Napolean Fields diamond.
Bearded first baseman Ron Taylor wrote books under the pen name “R. James Taylor” to avoid confusion with a retired Berrien County judge.
The biggest difference in his mid-19th-century version of America’s pastime is the lack of protective equipment.
No mitts, in particular.
There are no called strikes because the hurler lobs the ball underhand to the “striker” at the plate with the idea of putting it into play.
Teams play nine innings, unless it’s a doubleheader, then a game might consist of seven innings.
A scorekeeper seated at a table “tallies” the “aces,” or runs.
Base runners cross the dish, approach the table and ring a bell, instructing, “Please tally my ace.”
The pipe-puffing umpire, or arbiter, is wearing a House of David uniform because he’s favoring a sore shoulder, but he was paid to be impartial.
Rick Ast just retired from the Herald-Palladium and a journalism career that began in 1979.
The Echoes’ female catcher smashes a ball that is caught, prompting Ast to impose a two-bit (25 cents) fine for “putting out a lady.”
A solid hit might be acknowledged aloud as, “Well struck, sir.”
When a fly ball is caught on the first hop, the call goes out, “Striker’s dead” or “one hand dead” (out).
The realism of a bygone era is somewhat shattered by players swigging Gatorade and checking their mobile devices as they sit on the bench, awaiting their turn at bat.
And then there was The Catch made by the House of David speedster who ran a firefighter down from behind between second and third.
He is fully extended when he makes an MLB Network-worthy catch in center.
Except there’s only that glimpse, and you remember what baseball was like before replays from every conceivable angle.