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New York Yankees to play at Pulaski - literally 

Fort to host first annual 'Blue vs. Gray' period baseball game on July 3

One of the first known photographs of what we would recognize today as a baseball game was taken at Fort Pulaski in 1862, soon after the Union takeover.

Involving troops of the 48th New York Volunteer Infantry who were garrisoning the fort, the game in that famous photo was played on the vast parade ground inside the fort’s walls.

You’ll have an opportunity to witness a very similar scene this Sunday — and maybe take a few swings out on the parade ground yourself afterward — as teams from Fort Pulaski and Fort Jackson further up the Savannah River compete against each other in a Blue vs. Gray game based on the “official” rules of baseball at the time.

“In the photographs it’s just soldiers who play, mostly in their uniforms,” explains Ft. Pulaski Park Ranger Joel Cadoff.
“We’ll be playing in cotton shirts and trousers like what the soldiers would be wearing. The big flourish of real baseball uniforms doesn’t happen until some years later.”

While New York was essentially the birthplace of baseball, Cadoff says it’s an “untrue myth” that Abner Doubleday — a U.S. Army officer who served with distinction in the Civil War — invented it.

“You still find people who believe Doubleday invented baseball, but that’s not the case,” says Cadoff. “It’s really a conglomerate of English games like cricket, roundball and rounders. Along the way it was simplified into something we’d recognize as baseball. We’ll be using the rules of the game from 1860 adopted by a group called the National Association of Baseball Players.”

Some other differences between the Civil War version and today:

• Underhand pitching (called “hurling”)

• Batters (called “strikers”) are out if the batted ball is caught after the first bounce as well as in the air

• No gloves

• No called balls (pitchers/hurlers can complain to the umpire if they think the batter/striker is wasting time)

While Ft. Pulaski has hosted period baseball games in the past, those have mostly been intramural affairs involving staff. This year marks the first time that Pulaski is taking on a team from another fort — interleague play, you might call it.

In case you’re wondering who will wear blue and who will wear gray, Cadoff and his Ft. Pulaski team will be the literal New York Yankees this year.

“The main reason is because in those three different photos taken here, it was the 48th New York Infantry playing the games,” says Cadoff. “So it sort of made sense that Pulaski should be the Union side. Also, Fort Jackson remained a Confederate outpost during the entire war.”

After the game, Cadoff says observers will get a chance to take a few whacks at the ball themselves. In addition to the game itself, Fort Pulaski is hosting a whole range of family activities throughout the Independence Day weekend.

Sunday, July 3

10 a.m. Guided Fort Tour

11 a.m. Musket Firing

Noon Cannon Firing

12:30 p.m. National Anthem, followed immediately by "Blue vs. Gray" Civil War Baseball Game

2 p.m. Family Vintage Baseball Game

3 p.m. Cannon Firing

4 p.m. Guided Fort Tour

5 p.m. Musket Firing

Independence Day - Monday, July 4

10 a.m. Guided Fort Tour

11:30 a.m. Musket Firing

Noon: Guided Fort Tour

1:30 p.m. Musket Firing

2 p.m. Guided Fort Tour

3:30 p.m. Musket Firing

4 p.m. Guided Fort Tour

5 p.m. Musket Firing

Where: Fort Pulaski National Monument is on U.S. Hwy 80, 15 miles east of Savannah.

Cost: Entrance fee of $5 per person is charged; ages 15 and under
are free.

Info: (912) 786-5787, www.nps.gov/fopu





 

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Jim Morekis

Jim Morekis

Bio:
A native Savannahian, Jim has been editor-in-chief of Connect Savannah for ten years. The University of Georgia graduate is also a travel writer, authoring regional guides in the Moon handbook series... more

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