Top hat and tails: a Vintage Base Ball story

Umpire Ed Rovera, left, enforces the rules of a nineteenth Century baseball game here in the twenty-first.

Umpire Ed Rovera, left, enforces the rules of a nineteenth Century baseball game here in the twenty-first.

Last Sunday afternoon, Ed Rovera passed along MacArthur Boulevard in his Sunday best, from his shiny black top hat all the way to his dangling coattails. But don’t let his dapper apparel fool you: he wasn’t headed to church or a wedding, but to Mosswood Park, where he would serve as umpire for a baseball game. Though his choice of attire seems strange, it was completely normal in the late nineteenth century, which is the style he is trying to capture. Rovera is an umpire for the Bay Area Vintage Base Ball League, a group of five teams that play according to the rules of baseball as written in 1886. On Sunday he was refereeing a game between the San Jose Dukes and–the hometown favorites–the Oakland Colonels, who ultimately won by a wide margin.

To hear the players and fans explain what draws them to this old-fashioned version of the game, check out Oakland North’s radio coverage of the Colonels above.

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