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DECATUR — Men and women interested in playing baseball in its original form will have two opportunities to try out the game this month. The Rock Springs Ground Squirrels Vintage Base Ball Club is offering open play sessions on Sept. 8 at 10:30 a.m. and again on Sept. 15 at Rock Springs Conservation Area.

The Ground Squirrels Club, Illinois’ first playing with the rules, uniform and equipment of the 1860-era, is looking for new players.

The Saturday sessions are designed to give those interested a chance to play the game. No special equipment is needed. Gloves are not used in vintage base ball and the ball is slightly softer than the modern ball. 

Spelled as two words in the 1800s, vintage “base ball” boasts a unique set of rules that are different from the game we know today. The Ground Squirrels and neighboring teams compete with authentic 1858 rules, which include: No gloves, no foul balls, and no ungentlemanly behavior. In addition, its 19th century terms give it flavor.  For example, fans are known as “cranks” and players are called “hands”. 

Since the founding of the Ground Squirrels in 1992, vintage teams have sprouted in Bloomington-Normal, Danville, Springfield and Vandalia, in addition to several in the St. Louis area.

Both sessions will be held on the club’s home field BeautifulTrobaughField (spelled and pronounced as one word) located at the Rodney T. Miller Wetland in Rock Springs Conservation Area. The field is named after Joseph Trobaugh, who once lived in the house that is known today as Homestead Prairie Farm. 

Those wishing more information should contact Bob Sampson at (217) 358-1953 or April Prasun at: .

Founded 26 years ago, the Rock Springs Ground Squirrels Vintage Base Ball Club is an educational program of the Macon County Conservation District.

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