The Beat is typically all about the arts — but we’re sports fans, too, just like most of you. The annual Ohio Cup, a vintage base ball (yes, it used to be two words) tournament/festival hosted by the Ohio Village Muffins, is a real treat. More than 25 vintage base ball clubs from throughout the Midwest play the game as it was played in its formative years — equipment, garb and rules — Aug 30-31.
The Ohio Village Muffins have been around since 1981. The club was originally organized to show how recreation and base ball were becoming a part of life in the mid-nineteenth century. The team was the first in the nation to play a regular schedule of vintage base ball matches and the Ohio History Connection has assisted in the formation of nearly 50 other vintage teams in Ohio and beyond, including Colorado, New York, Georgia, and Canada.
The Muffins play in uniforms patterned after the Currier and Ives lithograph The American National Game, on display at the Ohio Historical Center. The uniforms consist of plain long pants, a white shirt with a bright shield containing the team emblem, a pill box hat, a leather belt with the team name embossed on it and a bow tie.
Bats are no bigger than 2.5 inches in diameter, but may be of any length. Balls are 10 inches in circumference with a single piece of leather covering them. Bases are at least one square foot and are filled with sand or sawdust. The game is played bare-handed as baseball gloves had not been invented yet. If you cannot make it to the village on Cup weekend, you can catch them in action on most weekends April through October. You can watch them play a doubleheader against the Moscow Monarchs Saturday, Aug. 23 during the free Ohio Village Food Truck Festival. Admission to the history center and the village is free for the event but parking is $6.
Ohio Village is located on the grounds of the Ohio History Center, 800 E. 17th Ave., Columbus, 43211, ohiohistory.org.