“The way the game was meant to be played!” has special meaning when teams of Gold Country Vintage Base Ball get together. Initially organized by Mike “Goose” Carey, base ball fanatic and former Superintendent of the Amador County Unified School District, a group of about 25 local base ball enthusiasts were curious enough to purchase vintage uniforms, replica equipment, and subject themselves to re-learning the game they loved.In the inaugural 2006 season, the Crushers and Miners enjoyed a banner year, playing games in eight different counties, in two AAA minor league parks (Sacramento and Fresno), an exhibition at San Quentin Prison, and hosting the first-ever California Vintage Base Ball All-Star Festival (with all five teams from Bay Area Vintage Base Ball participating). After the Miners dominated the 2006 season, the Amador Crushers won the first “California Cup” in 2007 and went on to represent the west coast at the Vintage Base Ball World Series in Massachusetts, taking third place in this national tournament.In 2007, the Sierra Highlanders (before the Yankees became, well, the Yankees, they were known as the Highlanders) and the Rancho Murieta Bandits became only the eighth and ninth vintage teams on the west coast. After these teams joined the Amador County Crushers and Mother Lode Miners as members of GCVBB, in 2008 the Preston Nine learned the hard way what it’s like to field a team of muffins for the third season. The Highlanders spirited squad was able to wrestle away the GCVBB Championship from the Crushers in 2009. In 2010, it was the Rancho Murieta Bandits taking the GCVBB crown, and they edged out the Higlanders for the California Cup. In 2011, the Amador County Crushers earned their third Cup by way of a hot streak in post-season play following a 3-5 regular season record against fellow GCVBB squads and the Bandits kept the streak alive by holding on the the Cal Cup one more time for the GCVBB. This year the sixth team, the Represa Pioneers, will join in on the Gold Country vintage game.The field is ‘regulation’ base ball, 90-foot bases, but with a pitcher’s box a few feet in front of where today’s mound is found. The gloves are little more than leather garden gloves, with no webbing, the ball looks like today’s sphere but a little lighter and softer (and softens up as the game goes on) and bats are thick, wooden timbers that can weigh over 40 ounces. The catcher’s equipment does not include shin guards and the glove for this position (known as the ‘behind’) is webless and small with minimal padding. Pitching speed is dictated typically by how much pain the ‘behind’ can absorb behind the plate. Most hurlers, however, rely on quick pitches, breaking stuff and pitching from all angles inside the box, one side to the other.Because there is no infield fly rule, because runners can be called out for not hustling to or back to a base even after a walk or foul ball. The hidden ball trick is an important strategy and because the pitcher can balk to first, at will, the game is fast-paced and exciting. It is also a game where the umpire – although the sole arbitrator of the game – can also involve the players and even the fans (called ‘cranks’ in this period) in helping with the calls, under ‘the gentlemen’s rule.’ Back in the day, this did not stop cranks from shooting guns off in the air to distract fielders during the game; though this is one part of 1880s baseball not ‘relived.’ Come on out and join us for a Sunday at the ol’ ball park.