Arizona Territories Vintage Base Ball League 2011/2012



The Vintage Base Ball season is kicking off soon in Arizona. You might have stopped after that sentence and asked yourself "What in the sam hill is Vintage Base Ball?"


Vintage Base Ball is basically baseball as we know it, but with old style rules, equipment, and uniforms. The Arizona Territories Vintage Base Ball League (ATVBBL henceforth) is a league that plays the game with teams in the Phoenix area, Tucson, and Bisbee, and last season had many snakepit members as participants (Myself, 'skins, kishi, soco, BattleMoses, marionette and possibly some others I may have forgotten). After the jump, more details on Vintage Base Ball and the ATVBBL.


The ATVBBL uses 1860s- era rules. The most noticeable ones boil down to the following: (From the ATVBBL website)


Most games in the ATVBBL use rules from 1860.  Some of the differences between those rules and modern baseball include:

  • Underhand pitching.

  • If a ball is caught on one bounce, it's an out.

  • If a ball is caught off a foul tip, either on the fly or one bounce, it's an out.

  • Balls caught on the fly or one bounce by anybody (players from either team, spectators, etc.) are outs.

  • If the ball is caught on the fly, you cannot tag up and advance.  If a ball is caught on one bounce, runners may advance at will without tagging up.

  • A ball is determined fair or foul based on where it first strikes the ground.  It does not have to pass first or third base to be considered fair.

  • Fouls are not strikes.

  • No overrunning first base.  If you overrun the base, you can be tagged out.

  • No lead-offs or stealing.

  • Balls and strikes were not usually called in 1860.  The hurler's job is to pitch balls that the striker can hit.  The defense is supposed to put out the striker, not the hurler.

  • The umpire's word is the law!  Only the team captain is permitted to speak to the umpire, who is always addressed as "sir."  Any arguing with the umpire, profane language, or ungentlemanly conduct is punishable by a 25 cent fine.

I'll add one more slightly confusing rule that came up a bit last season: Whoever makes the last out of an inning (Whether they were batting or running the bases), the person next in order comes up to bat, no matter who was batting before.

For example: If playing under Vintage rules Willie Bloomquist gets a single, Aaron Hill strikes out, Justin Upton flies out, then Bloomquist is out at second on a Fielder's Choice, Aaron Hill would lead off the next inning, since he is next in order after Bloomquist (who made the last out). That one does seem to come up a lot. You can find more detailed rules at the above-linked website.

It might go without saying but: all bats are Wooden. You can either use a vintage style bat, or use a modern wooden bat and sanding off all of the markings.

The balls used are 1860s style lemon peel baseballs. You'll notice that the stitching is different than a modern one. These are also softer than a modern baseball because...

Gloves as we know them are not allowed. Most players play barehanded, but some people opt to use a basic work or gardening glove. Be warned, this may be considered "Unmanly".

All games in the league occur (with a few exceptions) on Saturday afternoons starting in November (at the time of writing the schedule has not been finalized). There are a few end of the year tournaments, including a two-day event in Bisbee at Warren Ballpark, the oldest still-standing baseball field in the USA.

There are currently five teams in the ATVBBL. They are:

Location Team
Peoria/North Phoenix Bisbee Bees
Glendale Glendale Gophers
Central Phoenix/East Valley Phoenix Senators

Bisbee Bisbee Black Soxs
Tucson Tucson Saguaros


The Bees and Gophers play at Gopher Field in Glendale (right across the street from the University of Phoenix Stadium where the Cardinals play). The Senators play at McQueen Park in Gilbert. The Saguaros played last year at Kino Sports Complex, and the Black Sox played in a variety of locales in Tucson, Tombstone, and Bisbee.

If you're interested in playing, go to the website ( and find the contact information of the team you think you'd like to play for and shoot them an e-mail. If you have any questions, I'm sure myself or anyone else who played last year would be able to answer them.

League Fees are around $30 plus whatever insurance the team needs as well as the cost of a uniform (some teams are more fancy than others).

I can attest, as I'm sure anyone else could, that this is REALLY REALLY fun, and very low key. Players come from both major genders and can range from elementary school age to octogenarians. And, like I mentioned above, it's a baseball refuge in the cold dark offseason.

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