Casey Martin Photography Artist Statement
In 1866 war between the states had just recently ended and all of the soldiers were returning home from the battlefields. Men that lived right next to each other near the Mason Dixon line had fought on both sides of the war. While at war, the men spread word of a new game that was being played in New York and the New England area. The sporting phenomenon of Base Ball, originally two words, began to take hold along the Eastern shore of Maryland and throughout all of the Northeastern United States with the help of sales reps from the Baltimore Sports Emporium in hopes of increasing their sporting goods sales.
Prior to 1857, established men’s ball clubs were free to create and modify their own rules. It was only until the New York Knickerbockers, who had been experimenting with a set of rules since 1845, led the way to establish the first national association, the National Association of Base Ball Players or NABBP. Local newspapers would advertise an upcoming match, but would have to explain the rules of the game for the first time audiences. It was very hot in mid July when the clubs would meet to play a game that could’ve lasted up to six hours. There were no multi-million dollar contracts or corporate sponsorships, just a social game that was being played to pass time and to stay in shape after the war. The Vintage Base Ball Association is restoring this original idea of the game in the present day.
The first annual Gettysburg Vintage Base Ball Tournament was held on July 17-18, 2010. A few diamonds were mowed down in the middle of a farmer’s field on the battlefield West of Gettysburg to make up the playing fields for the tournament. The games were played using the same equipment, customs, and language that were used at the end of the Civil War. The players wore authentic uniforms and played by nineteenth century rules. Some of the rules have not changed. There are still nine men to a side and nine innings in a game. The most obvious difference between Civil War era baseball and today’s game is that they did not use gloves and they could catch the ball off of one bounce. Gloves did not come into play until the early 1880’s. The Gettysburg tournament welcomed guests with historical portrayers featuring President Lincoln, General Grant, and General Lee throwing out the first balls.
The tournament consisted of six vintage baseball clubs from the surrounding area, three Union and three Confederate. The Union clubs consisted of: The Pittsburgh, Pa Franklins BBC, The Somerset County, Pa Frosty Sons of Thunder, and The Flemington, Nj Neshanock. The Confederate clubs consisted of: The Elkton, Md Eclipse, The Talbot County, Md Fair Plays, and The Diamond State BBC from Delaware. Each Union club played each Confederate club. The Elkton Eclipse and the Talbot Fair Plays came out on top with perfect 3-0 records, but the Fair Plays would secure the title for the Confederacy with a 14-9 victory over the Eclipse in the final championship game.
The images were shot with a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark ii.