DOUGLAS, Mich. – Baseball and apple pie…the American way and favorite pass time for many years! But how about the game of vintage baseball played right here in West Michigan. The Douglas Dutchers have been playing it since 2003.
The Dutchers travel the United States throughout the year playing other vintage baseball teams, where the game is a little different, the uniforms are old, and gloves/mits are not used. Things are simple, they play for the fun of it, and it’s “gentleman’s rules.”
Helen DeGeatano (nicknamed the wild Sicilian) started the team a few years back because of her son’s handicap and love for the game. She also said “I knew this field existed and I didn’t want someone to come in here and develop it and I knew that this was over 150 years old, so it was an excellent fit for a vintage baseball club.” Their home ballpark is historic Beery Field in downtown Douglas. The field was actually redone in 1935 by President Roosevelt. He selected eight ballparks across the country to invest in and redo.
Players say the game is kind of like baseball and softball combined. Baseball because it’s fast-paced, and softball in that they toss the ball underhanded over the plate. If the ball is caught anywhere on the field in one bounce, it’s an automatic out. If it gets hit in to the dugout, the ball remains in play. If a home run is hit over the outfield fence, better run fast! The ball remains in play as the hitter rounds the bases.
Nicknames seem to be popular on the roster like Gopher, Scooter, Moonshot, and Slim. Players cannot swear, slide, or spit, and cannot leave his feet to catch a ball. Breaking the rules sometimes result in being fined two bits…or about 25 cents. Anyone 14 and up interested in playing is welcome to join. Pitchers are hurlers, the Behind is the catcher, cranks are fans, and a dew drop is a slow pitch. There are no balls or strikes in the game.
It costs about $5,000 each season to run the team and donations are certainly accepted. The team sells hot dogs, sarsaparilla, peanuts, and Cracker Jack at each home game to help defer the annual cost. Click here to go to the Douglas Dutchers website for more information, their schedule, or to make a donation. You can also get more information at the Vintage Baseball Association website here.