History buffs and baseball enthusiasts could have a win-win in their future Aug. 10-11 at the 17th Annual World Tournament of Historic Base Ball.
And fans willing to make the trip to Dearborn, Michigan, can also cheer on a local team — the Oregon Ganymedes who play for the “love of the game.”
“We are guys who love playing base ball the way it’s supposed to be played,” said Tim Strohecker, 41, of Oregon.
In 2018, the Ganymedes vintage base ball club won the 3rd Class Division at the 16th Annual World Tournament of Historic Base Ball (spelled as two words until the 1900s), held on the Walnut Grove fields at the Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village.
Twelve teams from four states (Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois) squared off against each other playing 1867 rules to commemorate the original “World’s Base Ball Tournament” held in Detroit, Michigan, 152 years ago.
The Ganymedes play 1858 rules during their regular season, but follow 1867 rules at the tournament. 1867 rules include stealing bases and requiring players to catch fly balls in the air instead of letting them bounce once to register as an out.
After a slow start at the tournament in 2018, the Ganymedes rallied the second day and qualified for the championship game where they beat the Fallasburg Flats from Lowell, Michigan, 15-12 earning a return trip to the tournament in 2019.
“Our hitting finally came alive in that game,” said Mark Herman who founded the team in 2005 and has served as its captain for every season since.
His wife, Debbie, is the team’s equipment manager, statistician, and photographer.
The tournament is played on the fields in the Greenfield Village, part of The Henry Ford Museum.
Players and spectators can experience a trip back in time with players shaking hands after good plays, stopping the game to wave their hats as the Edison steam-engine train passes by the fields, shouting “well held” after good catches, and politely asking the lone umpire for a ‘judgment sir’ after close plays.
Newcomer Tyler Grant, 21, of Byron, soaked up the experience of the 2018 tournament.
“I think it is pretty cool to see how baseball has evolved. I would definitely recommend it,” said Grant who played modern-day baseball for Byron High School and Rock Valley College. “When my dad first told me that there were no gloves I was like ‘eeww’. When they say ‘body the ball’ they really mean it.”
Sandy Strohecker, Tim’s mom, was one of 13 fans who made the trip in 2018 to watch the team. “It’s just a fun family weekend,” she said.
In addition to winning the 2018 3rd Class Championship trophy, the team also won the Furthest Traveled Award and Herman garnered the Finest Captain Award.
“We will be starting off this year’s World Tournament playing the always talented Saginaw Old Golds Base Ball Club out of Saginaw, Michigan,” said Herman. “The Old Golds have won the overall tournament championship six times in the last 10 years.
“This is the first time that we have had the opportunity to play them as the brackets never matched up with us over the past four years. This should be a fun way to start this great tournament,” Herman said.
Other strong vintage clubs are the returning 2018 champion Greenfield La De Dahs Base Ball Club (Dearborn, Michigan), tournament runners-up Walker Tavern Wheels Base Ball Club (Brooklyn, Michigan) and some strong clubs from Columbus, Ohio, Cleveland, Ohio and Bay City, Michigan.
“The Henry Ford Museum’s World Tournament of Historic Base Ball is hands down one of the biggest and best historic base ball events in the country,” Herman said. “I wish more people from our area could come out to experience this top notch event.”