WILLISTON, N.D. - Monday, October 17 will mark the eighth historic baseball game Associate Professor of History and Political Science Richard Stenberg has staged at Williston State College.
Teaching an eight-week course to thirteen students this fall on 19th century period baseball, Stenberg uses this historic recreation as a type of hands-on final.
"These students have to show the skills that they have learned in an authentic period play," Stenberg explained. "Though some of the play is similar, some things are uniquely different."
1870 baseball is an offensive-driven game.
"The biggest difference is letting the hitter hit the ball," stated Clayton Davison, a student of Stenberg's class and a member of the Teton baseball team. "As a pitcher it is going to be hard to switch that mentality. Instead of trying to get batter out, my goal will be to let the batter get the ball in play."
Other rules that are different from modern baseball include: no gloves are used, strikers (batters) get two warnings before a strike is called and if a fly ball bounces on the ground and is caught on the first hop, it's considered an out.
The space between bases is just over half the size of a modern diamond (around 50 feet vs the modern day 90 feet). Cranks (fans) can often become so involved in the game that they might show up in center field to psych out the other team.
"Eleven of my students play baseball for the Tetons," explained Stenberg, "so it will be interesting if they can revert back to early rules."
This type of baseball spread throughout the county as Army camps hosted a lot of the early games. Stenberg has documented that the first baseball played in western North Dakota was by US soldiers at Fort Buford, many of whom were Civil War Veterans.
"It is honestly really cool to see how the history of Williston and the history of baseball helped shape communities," Davison explained. "Towns and communities would stop an entire day just to come and play baseball, it was really interesting to learn about the history of the sport I came to Williston to play."
WSC faculty and staff have volunteered their time to supplement the teams so that each team has a 9-member roster.
The Executive Director of the WSC Foundation, Terry Olson, will throw out the first pitch after both teams serenade the cranks and rooters (fans) with a Northern Civil War period piece.
Acting President Dr. John Miller and Assistant Professor of Accounting Maren Furuseth are just two of the confirmed players. Associate Professor of Economics Matt Peterson will again be the Tally Keeper (score keeper).
The exposition game will be on the south end of the Williston State College campus along University Avenue just west of Frontier Hall with the first pitch 6:00 p.m. Faculty, staff, students, and community members are encouraged to bring lawn chairs to take part in this wonderful WSC tradition.
For more information on WSC, please visit www.willistonstate.edu, call 1.888.863.9455 or stop by 1410 University Avenue, Williston, ND.