“My goal is to educate,” Gaskell said. “I’m competitive, but ultimately I want people to know what the game was like during that era. When I became captain I wanted to focus on the historical accuracy as opposed to just playing backyard baseball.”
The team spends each summer at festivals and tournaments across the state, with players ranging from teenagers to young-at-heart ballplayers in their 60s. They maintain every detail of the game from 1867 -- from playing with a larger ball than today’s version, to using their bare hands instead of gloves. They also closely follow the rules that were in place during that era, including:
- No bunting
- No leading off
- No sliding
- No stealing
- No swearing
- No sweating. Seriously.
“The first rules were invented in 1845, and by 1860 there were 38 rules,” said Gaskell, who spends time researching details for accuracy and finding new specifics to incorporate. “The modern vintage game was started back in 1979 or 1980, and data access was limited. Now we have the ability to review rulebooks from Henry Chadwick [commonly known as the “father of baseball”], so we are able to continue making changes.”
Minnesota has a thriving vintage baseball scene. There are 12 clubs located across the state, from Mankato to Afton, but there are also roughly 250 clubs throughout the country. In an effort to nurture the growth of vintage baseball beyond Minnesota, Gaskell also serves on the National Vintage Base Ball Board, a group that evaluates and updates rules and regulations based on historical accuracy and growing interest in the game.