LEXINGTON– They go down the line, calling out. ‘I’m Ace… Pops… Sarge…”
Fifteen guys with funny nicknames make up The Bluegrass Barons, a vintage baseball team that plays like it’s 1869.
Jerry “Sarge” Sudduth says “It does provide the audience with a different experience. If we do it right, it provides them with a perspective of how the game has evolved over time.”
They often play against the Dayton, Ohio Clodbusters, who represent an even earlier era (1860) when the players dressed more like farmers.
It really is a living history demonstration. They pitch underhanded, catch barehanded, use softer balls and harder bats.
Spectators bring a lawn chair to the field at Waveland Museum and if you ignore the cars in the parking lot or the food truck, it’s easy to imagine you’re in the 19th century.
The Barons play all over Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee and say no other team draws the crowds they do at home.
Fan J.T. Washington says “I love them. I think they’re fun and I like the change of rules. We’re still confused about the one-bounce, out-of-bounds out but it’s OK.”
It’s all informal. You can talk to the players in the middle of a game.
Kevin “Ace” Garland plays right field and says “As I’m running by, they’ll ask why did that happen or this happen and we try to explain what goes on.”
These amateur historians say baseball was more of a gentleman’s game in the mid-1800s, but that doesn’t mean the players weren’t tough. You have to be to catch balls without using a glove. And sometime you just let them go.
” I’ve broken a few fingers myself,” says Sarge. “It’s more painful than anything but, trust me, once you break it a few times, you’ll learn what to catch and what not to catch.?
Now in their sixth season, the Barons have chalked up a lot of wins. They’re proving America’s favorite past-time is just as fun when it’s played like a past time.
There are more than 400 vintage teams in the nation, but the Bluegrass Barons is the only one in Kentucky. They’d like to see more teams form in the area so they wouldn’t have to travel so far.
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