Friday Five – The Essex Baseball Association
Our Friday Five feature today is a little different. We wanted to highlight and showcase a unique vintage baseball team, The Essex Base Ball Association.The league plays at Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm in Newbury, MA. Matt Blanchette, a vintage baseball player is giving us an overview of the league and some upcoming fun family events that we can all participate in. Thanks Matt, for giving us an overview of the association and how it started! Such a great local group.
The Essex Base Ball Association was founded approximately sixteen years ago by the Sheehy brothers, Brian and Chris. They began playing 1864 vintage base ball by playing in pick up games at various and sundry locations, but eventually struck a deal with Historic New England in 2007, and the Spencer Pierce Little Farm has been their home for the past ten years. In 1864 players wore no gloves, a ball that touched fair once was fair for good, and a ball could be caught off of the bounce for an out just to name of few of the rule differences from today. There are four teams and about fifty ballists in the EBBA today (a far cray from 2000) that play for a combination of nostalgia, pride, beer, and the dream of bringing home ‘The Jug’ EBBA’s season ending trophy for the winning team to have bragging rights during the cold winter months.
The Essex Base Ball Association consists of four clubs modeled after teams that played in Massachusetts and New Hampshire in the 19th Century. The first of the teams is the Lowell Base Ball Nine of Boston, MA. Founded in 1861 they named themselves after John A. Lowell a crack ballist who helped form the club. The second club of the association is the Lynn Live Oaks. The Lynn Live Oaks from Lynn, MA played in the International League in 1877 and 1878. The Lynn Live Oaks have several claims to fame the first being that Candy Cumming, the inventor of the curve ball played and managed the club in 1877. The third club is the Newburyport Clamdiggers. The Clamdiggers played part of the 1885 and 1886 season in the New England League.The fourth and newest club of the Essex Base Ball Association is the Portsmouth Rockinghams of Portsmouth, NH. The Rockinghams were a team that played in Portsmouth in 1866 and 1867. The season begins in the middle of May with games then being held weekly at SPL, and ends with Jan’s Pitch in October, a fundraiser game for breast cancer and the arts dedicated to the founders’ mother, Jan Sheehy (This year it will be played on Saturday October 14th with a special guest umpire “Honest” Abe himself!).
We also host a few events every year. The Fiber Revival, Saturday August 12th during which Historic New England will provide demonstrations of the weaving process including everything from making the yarn to using a loom, and all of the stages in between! And on Saturday Sept 16th there is the legendary Ipswich Ale Fallfest, which never ceases to amaze with live music and great food, and then the regular season is brought to a close once more with music and vendors for those who missed the Ipswich Fest or just want to keep the fun going on Saturday September 30, with the American Music Festival (playoff and championship) 11am.
Come support the league and a local organization! All photos are courtesy of The Essex Base Ball Association and website.