Yesterday morning, Joe the star second baseman of the Mattapoisett 150th game and I made a trip to Tabor Academy to give a demonstration on how to play 19th century base ball. The Tabor students have the luck to be offered an elective English course during their senior year called “Baseball in American Society”. The students learn about the role of baseball in society and history with an emphasis on reading and writing about baseball. How cool is that? Among the readings for the course are Shadow Ball, The Natural and Shoeless Joe. There are colleges and universities that teach baseball and culture themed classes. I seem to remember at one time there was a class taught at Umass Dartmouth relating to the 1919 Chicago White Sox as a labor history course.
The Tabor teacher, Tom Jaillet, tries to get the students to experience playing 19th century baseball including the Massachusetts Game. This year he invited Joe and me out to demonstrate vintage base ball to the students. We met at the softball diamond and I quickly went over some of the basic, quirky rules of the New York game circa 1860. But the best way to learn is to do. The students took the field while Joe pitched and I caught. Overall the fielding displayed by the Tabor 10 or 11 students was excellent. Playing ball with out gloves did not deter them one bit. Barehanded fly balls were caught with ease and after one or two one-hop infield hits the students remembered that those were indeed outs. I would place this bunch a step above a muffin nine and with some work they could be one of the best crack clubs on the south coast of Massachusetts since 1877.