Vintage Base Ball and the Kent Base Ball Club

June 13, 2007

2002 (213)

2002 (213), photo by xman12.

I think it’s pretty cool that just hours after Brian H got me interested in the Kent Base Ball Club, Detroit Tiger pitcher Justin Verlander hurled a no-hitter.

The Vintage Base Ball Association says that base ball (two words prior to the 1880s) is a re-creation of the game based on rules of the late 1850s, 1860s and 1880s. Michigan boasts 13 base ball teams – more than any state.

The Kent Base Ball Club of Grand Rapids is a founding member of the Vintage Base Ball Association.

Grand Rapids’ first team, the Kent Base Ball Club of Grand Rapids was formed on April 4, 1867, when a group of Civil War veterans formed a club to continue playing the game they had learned while in the army. Silas K. Pierce, who had recently moved to the city from Ionia, was elected as the club’s first president…

One hundred and twenty-three years later, in 1990, a group of local enthusiasts led by city historian, Gordon Olson, decided to reorganize the Kents and play the game of base ball as it had originally been done in the 1860s. Olson had found the original constitution and by-laws of the Kent Base Ball Club in the Grand Rapids History and Special Collections Center at the public library, and was curious to see how the old game compared to its modern counterpart. The newly reconstituted Kents now play an average of 12-15 games per summer, and have appeared in Columbus, Ohio; Fayette State Park, Greenfield Village, Old Kent Park (all in Michigan), and Doubleday Field at Cooperstown, New York. In period uniforms, they do their best to live up to the enthusiasm and dedication to sportsmanship and fair play that motivated the original Kents.

Every year in early June they play the Silas K. Pierce Cup (State of Michigan Championship) at John Ball Park in Grand Rapids and you can get a schedule, more history and links at their site.

xman12 has over 1200 photos of the Kent Base Ball Club in action.

2 Responses to “Vintage Base Ball and the Kent Base Ball Club”

  1. farlane Says:

    The Welkin Base Ball Club of Port Huron has some cool photos from their games as well in their Photographic Emporium!

  2. Al "Toes" Smitley Says:

    I have played for the Eclipse Base Ball Club of Northville (MI) and am trying to collect as many scoresheets as I can since our club began in 2003.
    We played in the Silas K. Pierce Cup competition in 2003 and 2004 (I think we were 0-6!). I’m wondering if anyone has scoresheets for those tournaments.
    If so, I would certainly like to have copies.

    Thanks,
    Al “Toes” Smitley
    248-349-3026 ext 218
    smitley@northvillelibrary.org


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