PHOTO: A Monmouth Furnace player runs for second base in a recent vintage game.
SOUTH AMBOY, NJ – “Root, root, root for the home team!” declared the Historical Society of South Amboy, as it rounded up spectators and local baseball and softball players for a game against the Jersey Shore’s team in the Mid-Atlantic Vintage Base Ball League. The name of the game was two words in 1864 — the era of the rules they’ll play by.
On Saturday, June 9th, the John Bulls of Radford’s Ferry will face the Monmouth Furnace Base Ball Club 11 a.m. at Veterans’ Field, 416 South Feltus Street. Pitching will be underhand, bats will be made of wood, and there will be no fielding gloves.
John Bull was the Camden and Amboy Railroad’s first steam engine in the 1800s, and Radford’s Ferry was an early name for what is now South Amboy. Monmouth Furnace was the original name of the Allaire Iron Works in the 1800s, now a restored village where that team started.
The Historical Society will request a voluntary $5 donation for admission, a snack, water, a souvenir (while supplies last) and a wrist band for post-game festivities at the Ancient Order of Hibernians with cash bar and light snacks. “Red hots” (hot dogs) and popcorn will be available during the game at 19th-century prices, according to a Society spokesman.
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“Our quirky but fast-paced games re-enact the roots of modern baseball,” explained Russ McIver, captain of the Monmouth Furnace team. On spring and summer weekends, his club combines its love of the sport and history in exhibition games and serious matches against league rivals. The next stops on its schedule are Princeton, Brielle, Little Silver, Piscataway, Atlantic Highlands and even nearby states.
Like its South Amboy opponent, the Monmouth Furnace team includes “muffins” (rookies) as well as “corkers” (good players). Both clubs are hoping to attract a lot of “cranks” (fans) on June 9th.
- Monmouth Furnace players wear 1864-style ties, catch the ball without gloves, and swing wood bats.