Vintage base ball is alive in Cincinnati

Posted at 10:10 AM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-16 18:44:12-04

CINCINNATI — Todd Mattingly and his team the Blackbottom 9 play in a vintage base ball league at Joyce Park in Fairfield.

“It's a gentleman's game, originally for sport and exercise is what they said," Mattingly said. "We've been playing ball with these guys for 12 years now.”

Christian Olsson, also known as Boston, has been playing in the league for 10 years.

“The average age is about 40," Olsson said. "Great for great old people like me. It's the pitcher's duty to pitch a strikable ball, and it's the striker's duty to strike the ball. 1869 rules, there were no gloves. It's a wood bat, it's a real baseball, it's a little bit heavier, it's a little bit bigger. But other than that, it's baseball, and it's barehanded.”

The bare hands concept makes it painful for some.

“We've got a couple of guys on the team that have some S shaped fingers,” Mattingly said.

Mattingly is affectionately known as “Rabit."

“It's not a very interesting story,” Mattingly said while laughing.

He loves to talk baseball and teach about the early days of the sport. He also stays true to tradition while playing, with vintage attire to fit the vintage game.

“It’s a wool knit jersey and canvas pants," Mattingly said. "I'm geared up underneath too, so you get a 90-degree day out here and it's a little warm.”

Wins and losses do matter to those who play, but the community of the game matters most.

“It’s competitive, but it's friendly competitive," Mattingly said. "Once the games are over, we've got a meal set up here. We'll all have some food together and share some stories.”

The Blackbottom 9 will be traveling for games out of state over the next two months, before returning to the Tri-State to play the Cincinnati Buckeyes and Cincinnati Red Stockings in a doubleheader on Aug. 22.