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Affinities: Hurlers, Strikers, Cranks, and Sirs

Bay Area “base ballers” who keep the vintage game alive.

SLIDESHOW

Mike Lewis

(1 of 10)

Lester Lee

(2 of 10)

Matt Petty

(3 of 10)

Jesse Mallory

(4 of 10)

Stephen Nemy

(5 of 10)

Evan Phillppe

(6 of 10)

Casey Hammonds

(7 of 10)

Charles Ackerley

(8 of 10)

Naji Ali

(9 of 10)

Matt Peterson

(10 of 10)

 

See all the Affinities photo shoots here.

“We're a gentlemen's league,” says Matt Petty, 42, president of Bay Area Vintage Base Ball. But as evidenced by their on-field nicknames—Jumbo, a skinny hurler; Chops, a striker with impressive sideburns; Breeze, known for an unfortunate below-the-waist rip sustained during a game—they’re gentlemen with a wry sense of humor. The league’s 130 players uphold America’s pastime as it was originally conceived, adhering to 1886 rules, equipment, and etiquette. They face off at parks throughout the Bay Area, including Golden Gate’s Big Rec. The custom uniforms are 19th-century replicas, and the equipment includes stout 40-ounce bats, “dead balls” with wool interiors, and unpadded gloves. “Fly balls are the biggest finger breaker,” Petty warns. (He’s broken three.) A few historical exceptions have been made. Though the 1886 rule book calls for seven balls and three strikes per out, “it became pretty clear that seven balls was way too long,” says Petty. “Turns out they adjusted that one for a reason.”

 

Originally published in the July issue of San Francisco

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