Friday, November 7, 2008
Boerne baseball tournament is a timely throwbackSan Antonio Business Journal
by W. Scott Bailey
COURTESY OF KRISTY WATSON
The 1914 Boerne White Sox
View Larger One of these days Major League Baseball will get it right.
After all, even Robert Deer stepped out of the headlights and got a hit once in a while.
Deer, defined by BaseballLibrary.com as a “hacking, heavyset, right-handed slugger,” had one of the
worst batting averages in Major League Baseball history.
Sure, sometimes he could hit it out of the park. But more often than not, he struck out.
Enter Major League Baseball, which can hit a four bagger now and then but far too often can’t seem
to get out of its own way.
Name another professional sport in the U.S. whose commissioner manages to botch his own league’s
That’s what MLB Commissioner Bud Selig did when he rained on his league’s post-season parade.
Selig reportedly used what he said was his sole discretion to start and then suspend a Game 5 World
Series match-up between the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays that some argue never should
have started and at least should have concluded with a victor.
Rainouts happen. But usually not like this, with so much on the line and a national audience tuned in.
The Phillies were up a run after five innings. But Selig let play continue into the top of the 6th despite
sloppy conditions. He let play continue long enough for Tampa Bay to tie the score in the top of the
sixth and then he suspended action.
How controversial was that decision?
Some Las Vegas sports books gave Game 5, and thus the series, to Philadelphia, citing a MLB rule
they claim had the Phillies in the lead after the last completed inning.
“We’re just following the regular baseball rules,” Hilton sports book director Jay Kornegay told the
Las Vegas Review-Journal. “This is a very common rule. We can’t make exceptions.”
Selig didn’t want to end the World Series with a five-inning clincher.
But what if Tampa had come back and won Game 5 and eventually the series?
I know Tampa needs a new ballpark and a lot more fans than the American League champs were able
to attract to Tropicana Field this season.
But was it worth the agony of another baseball controversy at the absolute worst time?
Wouldn’t it be grand if baseball could resort back to its simpler, more authentic past?
Those were the days before corporate sponsor intrusion, skybox suites and free agency run amok.
Some folks are attempting to bring back that past.
On Nov. 8, a short drive up Interstate 10, the Agricultural Heritage Museum is hosting the Boerne
Veterans’ Cup vintage base ball (yes, two words) tournament.
The games will be played using 1860 rules.
The make-shift field will be situated on the historic Herff-Rozelle farm.
This isn’t your father’s baseball.
It might, however, be the version your grandfather can still remember.
There are, according to the Cup organizers, roughly 100 established vintage base ball teams in the U.
S., including several in Texas. Some of those teams will travel to San Antonio’s Hill Country neighbor
to play the Boerne White Sox.
There are some notable differences in the vintage version of the sport.
For starters, pitchers are better known as bowlers, hurlers or feeders. They throw apples or onions
(nicknames for the larger, softer ball) and they do so underhanded.
The better ones can break one off (throw a curve) or toss a hard to hit dew drop (slow pitch).
On offense, a striker (batter) wants to avoid the banjo (a weak fly ball). He’d like to avoid the daisy
cutters or ant-killers (ground balls), too.
If you elect to make the trek to Boerne to catch some of the action, take note.
First, don’t fret if someone refers to you as a crank. It’s not a reflection of your personality, just
another word for fan. If you want to cheer, the chant of choice used to celebrate a player, a team or a
moment is “huzzah!”
If your guy runs like he has an ice box on his back, you might encourage him to “leg it.” If he drops an
easy fly or can’t get a hit, he might be a muffin.
But what might be the hardest thing to grasp about this vintage base ball is that admission to the Cup
won’t cost you a penny.