Calling all hill country towns!!! Boerne is part of the 19 county Texas Hill Country Trail Region that is currently in the process of being researched, mapped, and photographed to document heritage attractions in the area for historical tourism. The Boerne team is currently the only vintage base ball team in the Hill Country and they encourage other regional communities to start a team of their own so more matches can be conducted locally in the future. It is the perfect blend of history and sports and any gender and age group can play.
In the past, merchants and farmers would get together and play base ball in the same fields where sheep, goats and cattle grazed. Town teams would take the train or horse and wagons to the nearby towns to play. This was before air conditioning and television. Your town most likely has had a base ball team in the late 19th century or early part of the 20th century. All it takes is a little homework and a visit to your local library and historical association to research the uniform that the team wore, determine the name that they had, and replicate the team for a vintage base ball program. Partnering up with a local museum or history association is a good idea. To get new players to join your team, put the word out through the local newspaper, email the current sports teams, and put flyers around town. Uniforms can be hand sewn or ordered through vintage uniform companies.
Photo are five members of the Boerne White Sox Vintage Base Ball team posed for a photo taken by professional photographer, Randy Mallory, at the Agricultural Heritage Museum on May 19th for the Texas Historical Commission. Pictured left to right: Johnny "Cha Cha" Miller, Elmer "Waterboy" Bergmann, Wayne "Knuckles" Speaker, Jay "Beans" Avers, and manager, Kristy "Horseshoe" Watson. Mr. Bergmann happens to be one of the original Boerne White Sox Players who was on the team during the mid 1900's - only stopping during the war. Elmer is one of the newest members of the Vintage Base Ball Team and is one of the team's best hurlers (pitcher). The Boerne team wears a replication of an outfit from the 1914 era and plays with 1860 style rules as regulated by the Vintage Base Ball Association VBBA. There are 7 vintage teams in the state of Texas: Buffalo Gap Chips, Abilene 409's, Farmers Branch Mustangs, Montgomery College Saw Dogs, Richmond Giants, Boerne White Sox, Cedar Hill Cartrights and a few more that form the Texas Vintage Base Ball League. There are over 100 vintage base ball teams in the United States.
The Boerne White Sox Team plans to host their second annual Veterans' Cup Tournament November 8 and 9. The team will attend two out-of-town games in the fall. The Montgomery College Saw dogs will host the President's Cup on the campus near Conroe on September 13th and Farmers Branch Mustangs will host their event on October 11. The public is welcomed and encouraged to attend the practices and the games as "cranks" (the term for the spectators). Replica balls and bats are used. Vintage style dress is always optional, and yes, you are fined 25 cents for spitting, swearing, or not showing the proper character of a gentleman or lady. There are a few differences from today's game. Pitching is thrown underhand. No gloves are used. A ball caught on one bounce is still an out. There is no sliding, and you can't overrun first base. A tally bell is rung by a player who scores an ace (run). The bases are made of a burlap bag filled with saw dust and the home plate is made out of a plow disc. The umpire is called the "blind tom" and wears a top hat and carries a flask. He will ask the cranks for advise on a call if he needs help in his decision of an out. This puts all spectators in an important position.
Boerne White Sox Vintage Base Ball Practice takes place on the first and third Sundays of the month from 5:00 to 6:30 pm at the historic Herff Farm in Boerne. If you are interested in playing on the Boerne White Sox Team, or if you are interested in forming a new team in the Hill Country area, call Kristy Watson, director of the Agricultural Heritage Museum in Boerne at 210-445-1080 or go to www.agmuseum.org or www.vbbtexas.org.