By Mallie Jane Kim
Fans of America’s “old ball game” watched a historical treat in Setauket Saturday, Sept. 16, when the New York Mutuals faced off against the Brooklyn Atlantics on the back field of Sherwood-Jayne Farm using 19th century-era baseball rules.
The two hobby teams from all over Long Island and beyond, hosted at Sherwood-Jayne by Preservation Long Island and The Long Island Museum, represented real baseball teams from the 1800s and played using replica uniforms and equipment. That means swinging heavy wooden bats and catching baseballs with no gloves.
The event was part of Preservation Long Island’s efforts to connect with the community and allow neighbors to engage with one of their historical properties, alongside their local partner organization, The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook.
Elizabeth Abrams, PLI’s assistant director for operations and programs, said the event was a success. “We got a lot of folks who’ve never been here before,” she said. “It is great that we’re exposing our organizations to new people.”
Abrams said it was important to PLI, which is a small nonprofit based in Cold Spring Harbor, to make the event open to as many people as possible, and their partnership with LIM as well as some in-kind donations allowed them to offer the event free of charge.
“When we have the ability to put on a larger event, we want to make it as open and accessible as possible for the community that we’re in,” she added.
Among the approximately 240 guests at the event, John and Rebecca Wygand of Shoreham brought their four children to enjoy the game. “A little history for the kids,” Rebecca said, adding, “We’re baseball fans, you know.”
The Wygands said they were supporting both teams, impressed that the players were working so hard and without gloves — jamming fingers is an occupational hazard — and in the case of one player, without shoes.
But Rebecca Wygand balked when her husband suggested they also support both present-day New York teams, the Mets and the Yankees. “No, just Yankees,” she said. “You can keep the Mets for yourself. No thank you.”
In the end, a tie between the Mutuals and Atlantics pushed the game into the 10th inning, with the Atlantics taking the win, 12-11.
At a display with historical baseball artifacts near the field, visitors could hold old baseballs and try out a real wooden bat. Gavin Marlborough, 7, a Nassakeag Elementary School student who plays on the Three Village intramural baseball league, enjoyed watching the game.
“I like to watch old-fashioned baseball,” he said, noting the jerseys were very different from those used today — they look like white bibs buttoned on to white shirts.
For his own future, though, Gavin said he prefers modern baseball. The wooden bat, he said, is “too heavy.”
On the main lawn next to the house, live music provided a backdrop for visitors enjoying food, drinks, tavern-style iron puzzles and a bounce house for children.
The Sherwood-Jayne Farm House is currently open on Saturdays for docent-led tours, and the grounds are open year round from dawn until dusk for “hikers, joggers, bird-watchers and nature lovers,” according to the PLI website.