In the mid- to late-1860’s, Cincinnati had two major base ball clubs, the Cincinnati Base Ball Club (better known as the “Red Stockings”) and the Buckeye Base Ball Club of Cincinnati (a former townball club). The former had superior leadership and was able to pay for premium talent (including a few former Buckeyes). This led them to take their nine across the country in 1869, where they defeated all opponents, spread the glory of professional base ball from coast to coast, and put Cincinnati on the sporting map. The latter club… did not. Despite being a superior team early on, the Buckeyes were behind the ball, so to speak, on the concept of paying players, and, after being embarrassed on several occasions by their rival Red Stockings, folded after the 1869 season.
In 2001, the Buckeyes were resurrected to return as the local rivals to the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, together forming the Cincinnati Vintage Base Ball Club. Sporting uniforms* and equipment recreated as faithfully as possible, and adhering to the rules and customs of base ball as published for the 1869 season, the two teams brought vintage base ball to Cincinnati. Their mission is to provide an entertaining educational experience that accurately portrays the game of base ball as it was played according to the rules and customs of the day. Club members share a mutual respect for the game of base ball and one another, and through competitive matches with other clubs, will develop increased skills and understanding about the beginnings of the National Pastime.
The most obvious difference between vintage “base ball” and modern baseball are the lack of gloves, which weren’t widely used yet in 1869. Another striking difference is the atmosphere of the game, where great value is placed on honest sportsmanship and gentlemanly behavior, and spectacular plays get hearty “Huzzahs” no matter which team is favored. You can learn more about the vintage game HERE.
The two teams host their vintage base ball games at Dan Lyon Field in Heritage Village Museum – a period village located in Sharon Woods Park, just north of Cincinnati, OH. The Village offers a truly appropriate backdrop for the vintage game, and has become one of the finest spots to experience a game in the vintage sport. The club also travels the region and Midwest to play other vintage ball teams, and often at historical venues, museums or period-themed events, having played ball at such landmarks as Cooperstown, Gettysburg, The Hermitage, Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford, several Civil War reenactments and minor league ballparks, and even Great American Ballpark, home of the MLB Cincinnati Reds.
Today, the Cincinnati Buckeyes have embraced their underdog past and thrive playing in the shadow of their better-known rivals. And with vintage base ball being an amateur sport, the Buckeyes hold an even candle with their red-legged brothers. The two teams test this out at the end of every September when they compete for the coveted Trophy Ball, where the record is fairly even after 20 years of co-existence.
So please… Come out and catch the Cincinnati Buckeyes in action this Spring and Summer!
* The only thing known for certain about the Cincinnati Buckeye uniforms were that they featured an Old-English “B” on a shield. No known photos of the team exist and descriptions are scarce. In 2001, it was decided to use blue as the primary color for the vintage version, along with slacks, to differentiate from the Red Stockings “innovative” 1869 uniform. However, later research suggested the original Buckeyes probably copied the knickerbocker style of their rivals in 1869 (as did many other teams), and may have used crimson stockings as well. Another source suggests their uniform had a white shirt trimmed in light blue, with light blue pants and hat, both with white trim.