Photo by Eric Stauffer
Tony Thunder Wicker, Honest Al Stare and Todd Pig Daniels at a vintage base ball game Oct. 18 at Rock Spring Park in Alton.
ALTON — Residents are invited to attend the Alton Giant’s (their new community vintage base ball team) first official game at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 30, on the Upper Athletic Field at Rock Spring Park.
The Giant will be joined on the field by the St. Louis Brown Stockings. Another team from St. Louis, the St. Louis Unions, also will play on the Giant’s home field against the St. Louis Brown Stockings in a 12:30 p.m. game and the Giant will play a second game at 2 p.m. against the St. Louis Unions.
“We are very excited to play our first official vintage base ball game and have been so appreciative of the help the Brown Stockings and other vintage base ball clubs have been in helping us get started,” Giant team organizer Greg Gelzinnis said. “We had such great community support last fall when we played our exhibition game and have been working diligently since then to organize our own local team.”
The Alton Giant, named for Robert Wadlow, includes John Garvey, Chris Garbs, Larry Leppert, Tronde and Jeff Minnie of Alton, Gelzinnis and Mike McCauley of Godfrey, Wendy Hager of Wood River and Jonathan Farris of Moro.
“We would certainly be happy to add a few more players to our roster moving forward,” Farris said. “Anyone interested in joining the Giant (men or women) can come out to Saturday’s games or contact Greg Gelzinnis at (618) 550-9291 or during the work day at (618) 465-7764.”
Vintage base ball is played by the rules and customs of any earlier period. Ballists wear old-style uniforms, either the early long trouser and shield shirt, or a later-style lace shirt and knickers, and recreate the game based on rules and research of the various periods of the mid- to late 19th century. The activity of vintage base ball can be seen at open-air museums, re-enactments and city parks and is played on both open grass fields and modern baseball diamonds. Some groups consider vintage base ball to be a new sport, but at its core, vintage base ball is a reflection of how baseball existed at an earlier time.
“Creating a Vintage Base Ball Team that will play their home games at the upper athletic field at Rock Spring Park fits perfectly in the revitalization plans as another way to utilize Rock Spring,” said Gelzinnis, who also chairs the Rock Spring 2020 revitalization committee. “The Alton Giant have been invited to play a number of games in the surrounding area this season, but will be back home to close the season on Saturday, October 8.”
Those who plan on attending the games are encouraged to park in the large open parking lot in the middle of the park adjacent to the ball field. Fans should also bring lawn chairs for seating as there is only one set of bleachers in the park at this time. Concessions of brats, hot dogs, soft drinks and water will be available for sale during the game.
The Giant would also like to thank Logo-It and Granny’s Uniforms in Upper Alton for helping the team secure their uniforms and Dr. Pepper for helping with concession items.
“We truly are a community team,” Gelzinnis said.