The Great Rematch II
With the series tied at 1-1, it's the return to Wahconah Park for the rubber match game. Unlike Game One which was a night game, this game would be an afternoon affair beginning at 1 o'clock. It is a beautiful, warm and sunny Labor Day Weekend with temperature in the 80's.

Without ESPN Classic's involvement, it is wondered what level of fan interest may exist in a second vintage game at Wahconah Park. Would this become a One Hit Wonder? By game time, the question is answered as nearly 3,000 paying fans attend -- completely filling the ballpark's grandstand seating and good portions of sideline bleachers and outfield seating. The outfield seating idea was incorporated into Game One to accommodate the huge ticket demand and was a typical approach used by 19th and early 20th century ball clubs to increase ballpark seating for high interest games.

One of most pleasurable and inspiring moments from Game One involved a young girl retrieving a base hit into the left field corner and handing the ball back to the outfielder who then threw to the cutoff, continuing the play. There is no fan interference call or ground rule double. Everything in the field of play is live.

An Irish Bag Pipe Marching Band leads into Wahconah Park a parade of Hillies players arriving in vintage mint early 20th century automobiles. Once again, Jim "Bulldog" Bouton has spared no expense to re-create the pageantry and ambiance of Game One. Pre-game ceremonies include a "first pitch" by a 92-year old original Pittsfield Hillies fan who attended games in the 1920's. On the eve of her birthday, she is loudly serenaded with "Happy Birthday" by the crowd and players.

"These games are special and they should be treated as such," said Bouton. "It is a historical athletic competition that is part theatre wrapped around a game of baseball."

Matt "Crazy Legs" March sends an early message to Hillies tenacious southpaw pitcher Terry "Lefty" Bishop with a long homerun to left giving the Senators an early 2-0 lead. Pittsfield, however, would quickly answer back with two tallies. By mid-game, the Hillies would move ahead 7-4.

Bishop continues a complete-game masterpiece striking out 10 and allowing eight hits. The Senators' players acknowledge his performance as the finest tossed against them in their four-year history.

A five-run uprising in the eighth would give Pittsfield a 12-4 win and series advantage. The season has now ended for both Hartford and Pittsfield. It has been a remarkable summer between two clubs, drawn together in 19th century baseball spirit, who showcased vintage base ball to a small Massachusetts town of 45,000 and to hundreds of thousands more on national television.

And it all started with a "hunch" idea and a phone call. That's probably the real drama of vintage base ball -- there are no limitations, only opportunities to explore, create, develop, entertain, educate and just have fun on the field along the way.

 All photographs Copyright ©2004 R. C. Shaw, All Rights Reserved