Baseball today can hardly be considered gentlemanly, but in 1858, the honorable quality defined the game.
As the town's vintage baseball team, the Quarrymen brought the audience back in time. Using old-time terminology and dressed in vintage uniforms, complete with suspenders and emblazoned with the letter "Q," the Quarrymen played a doubleheader against the Bloomingdale Bucks, a rival vintage team.
For the Quarrymen, winning isn't everything. Bringing baseball from 1858 to today's public means more than just roleplaying and teasing each other with retired lingo for the players—it's a way for them to share history with members of the community.
"This is pure baseball," said Rich Kurek, a Quarrymen player. "I love this because it teaches a little bit of history too, so we're all history teachers."
"I think it's a way to bring history to the community rather than the community having to go to a museum or a building," said Susan Roy, a member of the Lemont Historical Society, which sponsors the Quarrymen.
Baseball from the 1850s includes a completely different set of rules from the game played by so many today. Besides playing on grass instead of dirt, players must also follow a "code of honor" or risk obtaining a "fine," or foul, by the umpire, who traditionally dons a top hat.
Players must also refer to each other by their nicknames. Kurek, once called "Happy," is now called "Morph" by his teammates. Other players' nicknames include "Beef Wellington," "Chicken Legs" and "Sir Clayton."
Though the players, ranging from ages 25 to 62, know the rules of the game well, the fans can have some difficulty understanding, said Rose Yates, another member of the Lemont Historical Society.
"People are uncertain of what it is they're supposed to be saying," she said. "It's something unique. It's a chance to present history to the community, and that after all is the mission of the historical society."
At a table set up by the sidelines, Yates and other members of the society handed out packets and rulebooks for newcomers unfamiliar with the vintage game, helping them understand the jargon exchanged by the players.
Still, the old-fashioned play is a main attraction for many of the spectators.
"The chatter and the rules is the best part," said Roger Sanzeneacher, a friend of Kurek's who watched from the sidelines. "It's different from modern day baseball rules and that's a novelty to me. I'm still getting used to it."
The games began with an introduction of all of the players along with a coin toss by the umpire to determine which team could bat first and Lemont Police Chief Kevin Shaughnessy tossing the ceremonial baseball, or "onion."
Seven innings of play followed, with each team cheering and, at times, taunting by calling players "lobsters," a traditional insult towards a hated player, or shouting the phrase, "Show a little ginger," prompting the players to show more enthusiasm and play harder.
Fans, or "cranks," rang bells and shouted, "Huzzah!" as the Quarrymen pulled ahead with runs, winning the first game. With about 50 spectators, the players fought hard to impress their friends and families. At one point, a Quarrymen player fell hard on his shoulder, leaving the game.
Despite the injury of his teammate, Kurek said that overall, the opener was a success.
"It's the first game of the year and it was a well-played game," he said.
"I think it's great," said Yates. "The teams both have a lot of spirit … It's a good thing to present to the community. It helps bring history alive."
Also impressed with the event, Roy praised the enthusiasm of the Quarrymen and appreciated the spectators' support.
"I'm really happy with the turnout," she said as she glanced around the field. "Everyone seems to really be having a good time."
Be sure to check out our photo gallery from Saturday's game.