Sandwich Record May 10,2006

A baseball challenge…

To Mr. Hal Ament and Baseball Players of Sandwich:

As you may know, Brad Meyer and I have formed a vintage baseball club. No, that doesn’t mean that we "vintage" men play the game; rather vintage in the sense of playing by the rules of the mid-19th century. We have taken the name of a Somonauk area team that we know played in 1876 and probably earlier. We are known as the Somonauk Blue Stockings.

In researching this we came across articles in the Somonauk paper June of 1888 which talked about playing the Sandwich 9 in a game of ball for a $10.00 purse during the 4th of July celebration of that year. The July 6th edition of the paper went on to describe the Fourth: "Somonauk has seldom if ever entertained as large a crowd as was here on the Fourth … (a) procession in the morning, followed in the afternoon by the reading of the Declaration of Independence by Frank Hess, and then various amusements. The game of baseball advertised did not occur owing to the refusal of the Sandwich club at a late hour to play for the purse offered."

How could you good people of Sandwich refuse ten (not easy to come by) dollars? Probably a dollar per team member. Were you really afraid that those Blue Stockings would embarrass you? Were you too lazy to hitch up the horse and buggy to make the three-mile trip? What were you thinking?

The Blue Stockings are willing, however, after 118 years, to give you a chance to save some face and to meet us for a game of ball for the same $10.00 purse (sorry, no allowance for inflation). We have received permission to play at the Fairgrounds prior to the fireworks of July 2nd. As base ball games were, in fact, played at the fairgrounds for many years, it would be most fitting that the tradition be reinstated.

Because base ball of 1888 too closely resembles baseball of today we would suggest playing by the rules of 1862 (Civil War era ball could still be recognized as base ball, but there are enough quirks to make it interesting).

Please let us know in this paper if you and nine to 15 able-bodied Sandwich men and women are up to the challenge. If you are, please remember that there’s no backing out this time.



Somonauk Blue Stockings


Sandwich Record June 14,2006

There is nothing like fun at the ol’ ball park. The Sandwich ballplayers will be happy to meet the Somonauk Blue Stockings for a game of "vintage baseball" on the second of July at the Fairgrounds before the fireworks.

Although you are no doubt a highly organized and well-coordinated unit with experience playing together, we are not frightened, as may have been the case with our predecessors of 1888. We know that our Somonauk neighbors are fun loving and full of good will.

This being said, I think that it will be a lot of fun to engage in a "retro" baseball contest for the enjoyment of the local citizenry. The fourth-of-July festivities in Sandwich are always a lot of fun and this will hopefully only add to everyone’s enjoyment.

We will assemble a squad of a dozen or so Sandwich "ballists" for the game and it will be a great opportunity for local baseball fans to witness early era baseball, from which sprang the great American pastime we enjoy today.

I join with the participants of this game in inviting one and all to "take a step back in time" to baseball’s beginnings and decide for themselves if the game has evolved in a positive way or not. The rule allowing gloves and overhand pitching was probably a step in the right direction along with changing the rule making a ball caught on one bounce the same as a ball caught in the air. However, the rule prohibiting any player from speaking to the umpire unless the umpire addressed him first seems to make a lot of sense when you think about it.

Good luck.


Sandwich Orange Stockings


Sandwich Record June 21,2006

To the Sandwich Orange Stockings

C/O Hal Ament


Thank you for your response to our request to make up the game from July 4, 1888. It should be a lot of fun. In fact, we’ll probably be aching more from laughing so hard than from running and batting. The game will begin at 5:30 P.M. Sunday, July 2. Gates will open at 5 P.M. for fireworks and the game. As the game will probably be played on the infield of the track, fans (cranks!) will be able to sit in lawn chairs or blankets virtually anywhere near the teams or in the outfield.

Mayor Thomas has promised to hold the $10 purse; the purse to be given, of course, to the winning team.

Prior to the game we will explain some of the oddities of the game as well as the rules and procedures. Mr. Tom Abens has offered to umpire this historic baseball contest. Umpire Abens is an honorable and fair umpire and is due our utmost respect.

Looking forward to our evening of fun and laughter (not to mention some good 1860-style baseball).


Somonauk Blue Stockings


Valley Free Press June 30, 2009

To Mike "Ace" Adrian, Brad "Moonlight" Meyer and everyone who enjoys baseball

Ah, yes, the Fourth of July is again upon us and the time for the traditional match-up is approaching. On behalf of the Sandwich Orange Stockings, it has been a honor and a pleasure to participate in this event for the past three years.

I tip my hat to Mike and Brad for all their unselfish dedication and the sacrifices they have made to put together the Blue Stockings. The team is a "class act" and a true asset to the community providing "vintage" entertainment for all to share in. Well done!

I would be remiss not to mention the special contribution made by Tom "Bull" Abens, the "ringmaster." He is a true delight. If you have not been able to attend any games, I urge you to put it on your agenda, you will be glad you did.

Sandwich now has a full-fledged, genuine vintage team, thr Sandwich Millers. Brian Faltz has put together a group of madcap old era baseball enthusiasts, complete with authentic apparel, to represent Sandwich in regular league play.

Now is the time to pass the torch. The Orange Stockings urge the "kranks" from Sandwich to get behind the Millers and support them with your attendance, beginning with the game of July 5. Let's break last years attendance record by at least a hundred. Sandwich will need all the support it can get to keep the perfect record intact. The Blue Stockings want that $10 back in Somonauk.

Good luck to all!

Hal "Gabby" Ament


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