The Clarkes Vintage Base Ball Club was formed in 2005. The club’s name is taken from a local team that played in the late 1800’s. That club was named after Horace W. Clarke or James C. Clarke, both Mobile & Ohio Railroad officials of that time period.
The Clarkes play by the rules of 1860 and primarily play clubs in southern and central Illinois, and the St. Louis area.
In 1981, the Ohio Historical Society organized the Ohio Village Muffins to show how recreation and base ball were becoming a part of life in the mid-nineteenth century. The team was the first in the nation to play a regular schedule of vintage base ball matches and the Society has assisted in the formation of nearly 50 other vintage teams in Ohio and beyond, including Colorado, New York, Georgia, and Canada.
In 1996 the Muffins hosted the founding meeting of the Vintage Base Ball Association to further the historical interpretation of the game. The Muffins play in uniforms patterned after the Currier and Ives lithograph The American National Game, on display at the Ohio Historical Center. The uniforms consist of plain long pants, a white shirt with a bright shield containing the team emblem, a pill box hat, a leather belt with the team name embossed on it, and a bow tie.
The name “Muffin” originates from the organization of 1860s gentlemen’s base ball clubs. The best squad was known as the “first nine,” the second-string players were the “second nine,” and those not well skilled were the “muffin nine,” a muff being the term for an error.
The pieces of equipment used by both the Diamonds and the Muffins are reproductions. Bats are no bigger than 2.5 inches in diameter, but may be of any length. Balls are 10 inches in circumference with a single piece of leather covering them. Bases are at least one square foot and are filled with sand or sawdust. Ball gloves and protective equipment had not been invented.
History of the Ohio Village Lady Diamonds
On November 23, 1993 an organizational meeting was held at the Ohio Historical Center to form a ladies base ball team. At the meeting many names were suggested for the club among them: Lady Birds, Daisies, College Ladies, Cardinals and Diamonds. Accounts show that ladies enjoyed watching base ball, but playing the game was frowned upon by …society. In order to play and get some exercise, ladies were known to go into the back fields and play their own games of base ball. These ladies became known as “Diamonds in the Rough”, and thus, Diamonds were chosen as the team name. Two volunteers were then selected to head up the team, Dianna Frias and Pam Koons. The uniforms were made by Dorothy Brandon and were dark blue with black trim.
The newly named Diamonds received publicity as the first team to re-create early women’s base ball. The Diamonds first officially took the field as part of a co-ed match at Kenyon College on Sunday May 1, 1994. The first Diamond match in Ohio Village was played against a group known as the Ohio Village Daisy Cutters. The Muffin Tin of May 31, 1994 records that the Diamonds won the game 3-1.
Finding opponents to play was a major problem for those early Diamond clubs. Many times, simple demonstrations were scheduled in place of actual matches. In 1996, the Diamonds abandoned their early uniforms for the simple dresses of the1860 time period and better represented the ladies playing in the back fields from which their name derived. More importantly, another ladies club had been formed in Sycamore, Ohio called the Crickets, later re-named the Katydids. The following year a third club formed at Carriage Hill Farms in the Lady Clodbusters.
The breakout year for the Diamonds came in 1998 with an increasing number of new volunteers joining returning veteran players. Also the number of ladies clubs in Ohio grew to four with the addition of the Akron Lady Locks.
The teams became good friends and often joined together to form an Ohio team as they traveled around the country playing in tournaments. Besides Ohio, the Diamonds have played in Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan and Minnesota. Unfortunately, by 2008 both the Katydids and the Lady Locks had dissolved, leaving only the Lady Clodbusters and Diamonds in the state. Today, the Diamonds gain extra games by playing exhibition games against local teams at festivals around Ohio.
The pioneering spirit and grit of those first Lady Diamonds has brought about the current success of the club and helped spread the history of the great game of base ball.
Currently, 18 players are on the roster. While many of their games are on the road, they play every year at the Ohio Cup and still call the Ohio Village home base.
Find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Ohio-Village-Lady-Diamonds-209578125771268/
The Oregon Ganymedes Vintage Base Ball Club is an educational outreach program of the Chana School Museum in Oregon, Illinois (a small town located on the Rock River 100 miles west of Chicago). The club has been playing 1858 to 1867 rules contests against teams from all over the Midwest since 2005.