Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Take me out to the (vintage) ball game in Faribault August 20, 2011

Curly Schreckenberg watches the vintage baseball match from his Model T Ford.

FRANK “CURLY” SCHRECKENBERG pulled into the Rice County Fairgrounds in his 1918 Model T Ford, a fitting mode of transportation Saturday afternoon for a vintage baseball game between the Northfield Silver Stars and the Rochester Roosters.

“There’s nothing like old-fashioned,” Schreckenberg said as he sat behind the wheel of his Model T, occasionally glancing over at the competition played with 1860 rules. No gloves. No called balls and strikes. No sliding. No spitting. No swearing…

Striker (batter) up!

Schreckenberg’s a fan of ball games. He played church league softball from age 38 – 71, mostly as a pitcher. “I loved playing ball,” he said. “I loved the fellowship.” He was dressed in the uniform of First English, his team for most of his 33 church league years.

His antique car drew lots of attention from the players and from the crowd gathered Saturday for the vintage match. The Silver Stars whooped the Roosters by a score of 6 to 1. Afterward, the players posed for a team photo by the Model T.

With team members sporting names like Cow Pie, Rabbit, Goose, Woodchuck, Bean Field and Admiral, no one seemed to take the event too seriously. Rather, the match focused more on bringing history to life.

Out on the ball field, the players, dressed in vintage uniforms, tried to stay true to the mid-19th century time period.

The Rochester Roosters, the scorekeeper and the umpire posed for a photo after the match.

Likewise, the Silver Stars from Northfield gathered for a team photo.

“Watch the daisy cutters (sharp grounders),” Rabbit, aka Scott Richardson, from the Silver Stars advised.

“Don’t run me over, Tar Cutter,” another player warned.

“I think the whole team ought to be fined.”

“Way to hustle, Bryan,” a teammate said, slipping up on a name.

Wooden bats clustered on the grass behind the players' bench before the match.

Players munched on sunflower seeds on the Silver Stars bench.

At least one Rochester Rooster player sported period style stockings.

Wooden bats and gloveless hands. Bags of sunflower seeds and peanuts. Wood planks balanced between straw bales. Root beer floats. Bell-ringing when an ace (run) was scored. Good-natured bantering. All set a period mood for the 1 ½-hour match (game) between the two teams.

Occasionally a player pulled a cell phone from a pocket, sipped on Gatorade, clicked a digital camera. Ethnic music from a Hispanic celebration across the fairgrounds carried to the ball field, adding to the relaxed setting.

“It’s a beautiful day for a baseball game,” at least one fan was overhead saying.

Indeed, it was a perfect August afternoon for a vintage baseball match in Faribault, even for someone like me who doesn’t get into baseball, but can appreciate living history.

Fans sat in the sun, but most sat under shade trees for the match hosted by the Rice County Historical Society.

Some attendees even brought vintage style wooden folding chairs.

Roosters' bench time and one dirt and grass-stained white uniform.

A young player for the Rochester Roosters.

The end of the match with the victorious Silver Stars on the right and the Roosters on the left.

FYI: Minnesota has some eight vintage baseball teams, I was told on Saturday by the game’s umpire. Most of those are in the eastern part of the state and include teams like the Apple Jacks from La Crescent, the Afton Red Sox and the St. Croixs. The Minnesota teams also compete with Wisconsin teams like the Osceola Onions and the Milwaukee Cream Citys.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling