WEST PORTSMOUTH — Talk about an opening act.
Before the start of the 2020 MLB season this Thursday after a near four-month postponement, the Portsmouth Chapter of the Reds Hall of Fame and the Cincinnati Redstockings vintage baseball team played their second annual game with vintage baseball rules from 1869 Sunday at Earl Thomas Conley Park in West Portsmouth.
It wasn’t necessarily planned that this vintage game would kick-off Reds Country’s return to baseball, but both teams expressed their enjoyment in being able to take the diamond for an afternoon of fun.
“It’s something we definitely talked about,” Scott Jenkins, Chapter Leader of the Portsmouth Chapter of the Reds Hall of Fame, said. “With the way everything’s been in the cancellation of sports, it was great to be out there, be able to play and have fun. It was great to be apart of something in playing baseball that everyone enjoyed.”
Members of the Portsmouth Chapter’s teams included leadership committee members Jenkins, Tony Williams, Brooks Snyder, Jason Risner and Jeff Rase, as well as Mark Trapp, Tim Harr, Matt Jenkins, Alex Wamsley, Drew Delotell, David Clark and Steve Hayes.
Before the game, Jenkins and the Portsmouth Chapter of the Reds Hall of Fame worked closely with the local health departments to ensure that they could in fact play the game as scheduled. Once given the go-ahead, Jenkins and company proceeded to play the game similar to something you’d see if you entered a time machine.
“We were awfully glad we were still able to play the game. Our chapter had a few things canceled because of the coronavirus, and the Reds Hall of Fame has been in the same boat. To be able to play, I think it was great for all of us and it’s something for our community here in Reds Country.”
A full list of the old school rules used in Sunday’s game can be found by visiting https://vbba.org/beadles-1869/.
With temperatures Sunday nearing the century mark, the Portsmouth Chapter exacted revenge on the Redstockings, winning 30-17 after dropping last year’s inaugural vintage game in the Portsmouth area.
“I think this year what helped us was that we all had a year under our belt, an expectation of how to play the game,” Jenkins said. “I think that really helped us all. If you noticed, our younger guys played the whole time. We wanted to have a team with enough guys who could play the game and play it well.”
Sunday’s vintage game for the Redstockings, a group of volunteers organized through the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, was their second in as many days following a Saturday game at Dogwood Pass in Beaver, Ohio. Being the baseball historians they are, several of the team members took the short walk from downtown Portsmouth to the floodwall murals to see the renderings of some of Portsmouth and Scioto County’s most historic baseball figures including Branch Rickey.
The vintage game being held at ETC Park marked the second-straight year the event was held in West Portsmouth.
In coming years, Jenkins said that the local chapter and the Reds Hall of Fame are considering moving the game to Branch Rickey Park or Millebrook Park in New Boston — a hat-tip of sorts to Reds history when some of the original Redstockings and Reds teams would travel by train or boat to the Portsmouth area from Cincinnati during the late 19th and early 20th centuries for an annual scrimmage before the start of their season.
“The Reds Hall of Fame was very pleased with yesterday’s event. It was hard to tell exactly how many people were there because a lot of people were sitting in their cars, and I can’t blame them,” Jenkins said. “Considering it was 100 degrees, and in the middle of the day, I thought we had a pretty good turnout.”
Individuals interested in becoming a member of the Reds Hall of Fame may learn more by visiting https://www.mlb.com/reds/hall-of-fame/membership/member-levels. The Portsmouth Chapter of the Reds Hall of Fame may be reached by contacting Jenkins at (740) 727-8370 for information on local events and brochures on what a membership to the Reds Hall of Fame would entail.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved