Scott “Stoney” Hanna of the Lewes Base Ball Club of Delaware takes a swing during a game against the Atlantic Base Ball Club of Brooklyn at the Gettysburg National 19th Century Base Ball Festival in Gettysburg, Pa. on July 19. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Baseballs that are made to resemble balls that would have been used in 19th-century games were used during the festival. Many of the games were played with an underhand pitch and a ball that was slightly larger than today’s modern baseball. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Wearing uniforms that hark back to a bygone era, men spread out on a lush green field. In the distance, a red barn is a dot among slightly rolling hills. To the right, a cornfield can be seen just beyond the open pasture. The game being played seems extremely familiar, yet there are a few glaring differences. It appears to be baseball, but the players aren’t wearing gloves, and a fly ball that is caught on one bounce results in an out. In many ways, the sport seems to be as antique and out of place as the players’ uniforms. From what age and place did they come? Did they simply materialize from the nearby cornfield as the ball players did in the Kevin Costner movie “Field of Dreams”? The answer is far more mundane. This is the annual Gettysburg National 19th Century Base Ball Festival. Not unlike the movie, the event pays tribute to the game of baseball when it truly was the national pastime.

This year the event drew 18 vintage-baseball teams from several states, one from as far away as Tennessee. The players play the way the game was played in the 19th century. Many of the contests during the festival observed the rules that would have been in effect during the Civil War, including underhand pitching. The ball that was used is slightly larger than the modern baseball.


Jay “Udderguy” Kauflie, right, of the Hog and Hominy Base Ball Club of Tennessee waits for his turn to bat in a game against Brooklyn’s Atlantic Base Ball Club on July 18. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Jeremy Meaker, left, and Kevin Shultze, right, both of the Lewes Base Ball Club of Delaware get ready in the parking lot ahead of a game. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

All the games were played on a farm a short distance from the Gettysburg National Military Park. According to Bruce Leith, 46, of Elkton, Md, one of the festival’s main organizers and also a participant, the setting is fitting for an event meant to transport both participants and viewers back in time. “The fields are just pristine,” he said. “It looks like the 19th century. There are no 21stcentury obstructions anywhere that you see. What they played on was pasture land, and so this for us is absolutely perfect.”


Jon “Bones” Henson of the Providence Grays of Providence, R.I. warms up before a game against the Capital Stars of Washington, D.C. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Matt Spencer of the Excelsior Base Ball Club of Arundel, Md. leaps for a ball as he and others warm up before a game. Many of the games were played without gloves. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Rich “Fingers” Effinger, left, of the Atlantic Base Ball Club of Brooklyn takes his turn at the plate as Jay “Udderguy” Kauflie, right, of the Hog and Hominy Base Ball Club of Tennessee makes a throw to second base. Effinger’s team is based in Smithtown, N.Y. Its name pays tribute to a 19th-century team called the Brooklyn Atlantics. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

A member of the Talbot Fair Plays hits a ball to the outfield in a game against the Mutual Base Ball Club of New York, or New York Mutuals. The weekend event brought together 18 vintage baseball teams, some traveling from as far away as Tennessee and Maine. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

A member of the Hog and Hominy Base Ball Club of Tennessee ties his shoes before a game. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Jay “Udderguy” Kauflie of the Hog and Hominy Base Ball Club of Tennessee poses for a portrait in downtown Gettysburg on July 18. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

GETTYSBURG, PA- JULY 18: Rich “Fingers” Effinger, center, of the Atlantic Base Ball Club of Brooklin rests from the heat in the shade as he and his teammates play the Lewes Base Ball Club out of Delaware during the festival. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Charles “Bugs” Klasman, bottom left center, of the Gotham Base Ball Club of New York wipes sweat from his face as he and others rest in the shade between games. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Derek “Legs” Fesolowich of the Mutual Base Ball Club of New York holds a bag of bats following a game. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Members of the Dirigo Base Ball Club from Maine tip their caps to the Eclipse Base Ball Club of Elkton, Md. after Dirigo lost to Eclipse. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

An Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia uniform hangs on a tape fence line during the festival on July 19. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)