2015-07-25 / News

Vintage Base Ball Game Is July 25 Behind Fort Mackinac

By Matt Harding


The Mackinac Island Never Sweats vintage base ball team will face off against the Mackinaw City Boys on the field behind Fort Mackinac at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 25. The Never Sweats are shown anxiously watching their striker at bat during the first base ball match against the Rochester Hills Grangers held July 19, 2003. More than 400 people attended the contest that the Grangers won 3-0. The Mackinac Island Never Sweats vintage base ball team will face off against the Mackinaw City Boys on the field behind Fort Mackinac at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 25. The Never Sweats are shown anxiously watching their striker at bat during the first base ball match against the Rochester Hills Grangers held July 19, 2003. More than 400 people attended the contest that the Grangers won 3-0. The Fort Mackinac Never Sweats, the Island’s base ball team dating back to 1885, will host the Mackinaw City Boys Saturday, July 25, at 6:30 p.m. in a game on what Mackinac State Historic Parks calls the oldest continuously operating baseball field in Michigan, behind Fort Mackinac next to the Scout Barracks.

“It’s another thing the Island does to recreate history,” said Pete Pellerito of the game. He is the team’s manager and, like all team members of the Victorian period, goes by a nickname. His is Two Bags.

The team and the ball field, said player Phil “Pops” Porter, is a part of the history of Fort Mackinac.

“We play a game and we’re competitive,” he said, “but we also recreate history for the public. It’s fun to be able to share that.”

Along with Mr. Porter, William “Hoot” Anderson, Todd “Mussels” Callewaert, and Clay “Lash” Fuller have been on the team since the beginning of the modern games in 2003.

The game is intended to demonstrate how base ball was a gentleman’s game in the 1880s, Mr. Pellerito said. That means the pitcher, former Detroit Tigers southpaw John Hiller for the Never Sweats, has to throw underhand and wherever the batter requests. There is no bunting, sliding, spitting, swearing, walks, or called strikeouts.

The teams play with rules adopted from the 1860s through 1880s. An umpire will be present to not only ensure the rules are upheld, but to also explain them to the cranks, known today as fans.

Lieutenant Edward Pratt helped form the first Fort Mackinac team in 1885. The Never Sweats traveled to Mackinaw City, Cheboygan, Petoskey, and other northern Michigan towns for games. A grandstand at the home field was later erected, capable of seating 500 spectators.

It is possible base ball was played on the field as early as 1871. Soldiers at the fort, who had ample free time, were encouraged to stay physically fit, and base ball was a natural, enjoyable way to do so.

Admission to the game will be $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 5 to 12, free for children younger than five, and $10 for the entire family, including two adults and all children younger than 18.

This year’s Never Sweats team, led my Mr. Pellerito, includes pitcher John “Ratso” Hiller, catcher William “Hoot” Anderson, first baseman Bart “Stretch” Stupak, second baseman

Austin “Rev” Winter, third baseman Craig “Wagon Burner” Bunker, shortstop Phil “Pops” Porter, left fielder Ryan Stephens, center fielder Clay “Lash” Fuller, right fielder Todd “Mussels” Callewaert, and reserve players Ken Fegan, Zach “Scrappy” Johnson, and Matt “Tiger” Novakoski.

Return to top

Click here for digital edition
2015-07-25 digital edition