Geek of the Week


Rob Bain, web developer in USF's marketing office, plays the hot corner in the Bay Area's coolest baseball league.

What makes you a geek? 
I play vintage base ball. Two words. Vintage base ball is baseball played the way it was played in the 1800s. We use the official rules from 1886. We wear period-correct uniforms, use period-correct bats and gloves, and try to speak in period-correct jargon.

The pitcher is a “hurler.” The batter is a “striker.” An out is a “hand.” The fans are called “cranks.” The umpire is called “sir” or “madam.”

How does the game differ from today’s baseball?
The glove has no webbing between the thumb and forefinger. If you hit a foul ball — which we call an “unfair ball” — it doesn’t count as a strike. If you get hit by a pitch, you aren’t awarded first base. Those are some of the differences.

What attracted you to vintage base ball?
I wanted to compete in an organized sport, but I didn’t want to be aggressive the way people can be in city baseball leagues or basketball leagues. In vintage base ball we play hard but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Also, politeness is a top priority.

So if you get hit by a pitch, you don’t charge the mound?
Nope. You step back in the batter’s box. And at the end of each game, each team salutes the other team with a loud “huzzah!” And then all the players shake hands and thank each other for playing. Then, together, we turn to the cranks and thank them for attending. Finally, we thank sir or madam for officiating.

How can vintage base ball change the world?
In this age of division and anger, vintage base ball players show cohesion and congeniality. I’ve never once seen an argument on the field. If your teammate makes a mistake, you don’t berate him or her. Players respect each other and encourage each other. It’s a good lesson for everyone. I like to think of vintage base ball as the future of sports.

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