WAPAKONETA — Amber Gray doesn’t mind mixing it up with the boys. Gray, a member of the Columbus Diamonds baseball team joined the Columbus Muffins baseball team in a game of vintage baseball Sunday at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum.
She’s been playing for about three years now.
“I love playing. Obviously, we have to wear a dress or skirt for the women’s team. The rules are a little different, but it’s about the same as normal baseball.” Gray said.
The combined squads of the Muffins and the Diamonds played a group of local gentlemen calling themselves the Wapakoneta Moonwalkers.
One of the players on the Moonwalkers was Wapakoneta Mayor Tom Stinebaugh.
His love of the game started at an early age.
“I played from the time I can pretty much walk until high school,” Stinebaugh said. “I found I was a better runner than a baseball player so I went out for track.”
In the first inning, Stinebaugh caught a ball on the hop to get the batter out. You can do that in 1860 vintage baseball and that’s what is played.
“They did not wear gloves until the 1870s,” said Jim Kimmach, scorekeeper and interpreter for the game. “They pitched underhanded so that the batter could hit it. They didn’t try to strike people out. It’s a hitting and defensive game. Three outs to an inning, three strikes to an out, but you have to swing and miss completely to be a strike — the umpire is not going to call anything — no balls, no strikes.”
The organization helps spread the living history of baseball.
“We just want to teach them what it was like to play gentlemanly baseball, where you’re not arguing with the umpire and you’re nice to people and we’re also teaching them what the history of baseball was like a long time ago,” Kimnach said.
The exhibition on Sunday in Wapakoneta was one way they have to draw attention to the Ohio History Connection.
“We’re an educational branch of the Ohio History Connection and we basically fund ourselves,” Kimnach said. “We do some events and festivals and we ask for donations from them. If we play at a place like today, that is another Ohio History Connection group, we don’t charge. We don’t ask for donations from them because they’re all the same organization as us.”
The money raised in other exhibition games goes to help them prepare for The Ohio Cup.
“We play it at The Ohio History Connection in Columbus and 30 teams are coming in here from all over the Midwest to play it on Labor Day weekend,” Kimmach said.
By Sam Shriver
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.