The activities at Grove City's annual Heritage Celebration on June 2 included a vintage game that offered a glimpse of how America's pastime was played in past times.

The Ohio Village Muffins played the Hounds, a squad comprising Grove City area residents, in a game of "base ball," two words as was the original custom, using the rules, uniforms and equipment of the mid-19th century.

The game was one of many vintage activities and displays featured at the Heritage Celebration, presented by the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society and the city of Grove City in Century Village at Fryer Park, 4185 Orders Road

"This is 1860s base ball. In those days, people played the game for the health and exercise of it, not so much as a competition," said Tom Della Flora, a member of the Muffins, which play as part of a program of the Ohio History Connection.

"There wasn't as many rules in those days," Della Flora said. "They kept score, but winning and losing weren't as important.

"Players would call themselves out. Everyone cheered the good plays made by both teams," he said. "It was a gentleman's game."

Under the 1860s rules, no balls and strikes are called and a ball caught on one bounce is considered an out. A ball is judged as being fair or foul according to where it first touches the ground.

"The fielders aren't waiting to see whether it goes out of fair territory like they do today," Della Flora said.

The Hounds are a loose configuration of area residents who form a team for the annual Heritage Celebration game, said Jim Habermehl.

Habermehl, who served as Grove City High School's baseball coach for 29 years organizes the Hounds squad.

"It's calling people up and seeing who's available and wants to play," he said. "We don't hold any practices. Many of the participants are former players on my high school teams."

One of the most striking elements of 19th-century base ball is that players do not use gloves.

"Using a glove wasn't something they would even think about because they didn't have them," Habermehl said. "Boy, it can be a challenge trying to catch a line drive bare handed. It stings."

The Muffins play about 45 to 50 games a year, and the Heritage Celebration is "one of our favorite events," Della Flora said.

"It's the just the atmosphere playing at a festival like this that celebrates our heritage and old ways," he said. "I've been doing this for 10 years, and I wish it had been 25 years. It's more fun to play the game than to watch it."

Elsewhere the sound of music could be heard.

Before performing on the main stage, members of the Village Pickers played bluegrass tunes while sitting on the porch of the Kegg-Kientz Log House.

"We get together to play whenever we can. We used to play a lot more around town than we do now," said guitar player Jim Ross of Darbydale.

"The great thing about the kind of music we play is that anybody can do it," he said. "Someone new can sit down and start playing with us and fit right in. That's what makes is so much fun."

Almost everyone seems to like bluegrass music, Ross said.

"It's a type of music that seems like it's naturally instilled in all of us," he said. "Except maybe the younger generation -- they kind of think it's too 'hillbilly.' "

Ross said one of his favorite Heritage Celebration memories proved that even youngsters can appreciate the music.

"One year we were able to set up in the old schoolhouse and we brought some additional instruments and invited the young kids to join in with us," he said.

"They were making a cacophony of noise, but they thought they were playing right along with us. They loved it. I'd love to be able to do that again," he said.

The school house, the original Orders Road School building, was open for tours.

"I think what I enjoy most is seeing the look of surprise, especially on children's faces, as they look around and see what a school house was like in the 19th century," said Dale Buck, a historical society member and Southwest Public Library staff member.

Buck was serving as a guide in the school house, which was built in 1879 and served as the village school until 1928.

"The children see the paddle and dunce cap and they don't know what those are," Buck said. "When we show them the paddle and they realize what it was used for, their eyes get so big. 'You can't do that to students,' they'll say."

Youngsters also are intrigued by the slates placed along the desks in the school house.

"They'll pick one up and say that it looks like a chalkboard, but they say it also looks a lot like an iPad," Buck said. "I guess it's the 19th century equivalent of the iPad."

Most teachers were men until the time of the Civil War, when women filled in for men who had gone off to fight, she said.

Teachers handled students ranging in age from 4 to 18.

"Once you passed eighth grade, you were considered 'graduated' and you could go on to take the exam to become a teacher," Buck said.

Another history lesson awaited those who visited the general store. The store was originally a house located on Borror Road.

"We've converted it into our general store and we've filled it up with the type of items that people in the village would purchased from their general store in the 19th century," said Phyllis Gibbs, a historical society member.

"I like to tell people that this was the Wal-Mart of the 1800s," she said.

Village residents would come to the store to buy household goods and supplies, sewing machines and other homemaking equipment, Gibbs said, adding that one wouldn't find many food items in the store.

"People mostly grew or raised the food they ate," Gibbs said. "But this was where you came to buy the materials and devices you used to make your clothes and household goods."

Century Village is "a wonderful teaching opportunity for people of all ages," she said. "We're really lucky to have a resource like this in the Grove City community."

afroman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekAfroman