by Dave Warner
Andy Krutz, who was born in Little Falls, went to school here, and graduated in 2005, is on a mission to bring back ‘vintage baseball’ to the City.
After going to college, Krutz got a Masters in Forestry Management and had numerous jobs around the country in that field until landing a permanent job in Bloomville NY.
Growing up he played soccer and baseball and said that he wasn’t quite good enough to play in college. “Last time I really played organized baseball was when I was 18, but I moved here and got this job and I heard that another forester had started up a vintage baseball team a few years earlier,” he said.
Krutz contacted him and started playing on the team in 2018 and he says one thing led to another.
“Teams like this are scattered throughout the northeast and I think there are even teams like this in the Carolina’s down to Florida,” Krutz stated.
This kind of baseball evolved very quickly from the 1860s to the 1890s according to Krutz. “We’re based on a team that played in the 1880s and 90s which is when overhand baseball became common, so we’re called an overhand team and that’s the rules that we play by.”
He said that there are also a lot of teams that use the 1860s rules, and they throw underhand and the rules are quite a bit different.
There’s not a significant difference between today’s major league baseball and vintage league teams, but according to Krutz, there are differences.
“You can have an infinite number of foul balls with no strikes called on you and the balls are a little softer. Lots of players back then didn’t wear gloves of any kind and the gloves that did exist looked like leather working gloves,” he said.
The softer ball means the hits are not quite as hard and don’t go as far as you think they might and the gloves are not as large as what is used today, so it makes for a higher scoring game.
Plus Krutz says, “Because we’re mostly older people who just play on the side, is going to make the game higher-scoring because of errors and things like that. But, if you look back at box scores from the games back then, they were pretty high-scoring as well.”
When those games were played, it might have been on a hayfield that had just been cut that morning, not the perfectly manicured fields that we have today.
How interesting are these games for the fans, and how well-attended are they?
According to Krutz, they always bring out the crowds. “Our area is pretty sparsely populated and the number of spectators we get for our games is pretty impressive. We have hundreds, and sometimes close to a thousand if it coincides with another event,” he said. “The people really like it.”
“You’re dressed up in period clothing, so you look pretty comical compared to what is worn today. That, compared with the slightly different rules makes it interesting for the fans.”
Krutz thinks that part of the reason for the success of these types of games is the nostalgic mood that is sweeping the country and the simple old-time atmosphere that is created when they play them.
The games will be played at Veteran’s Memorial Field. “It will definitely be the nicest field we have played on, but there will be certain things we won’t be able to change. For instance, back then, the mounds weren’t raised, so we’re not going to change that.”
Three teams will be coming to Little Falls for the event, and Krutz is working on putting together a Little Falls team as well. So far, he has 25 people that are interested in participating from Little Falls.
His long-term goal is to make sure that vintage baseball is here to stay and to establish a permanent Little Falls team. “There’s a team in Amsterdam that’s forming and wants more opponents to play as well.”
The goal is to get a roster of people who are interested enough in the game so that they can pull from it when needed.
They also intend to have Lou Parotta, the announcer from the Diamond Dawgs games on hand to talk about the game, the rules, and other interesting facts over the loudspeakers during different points.
They sometimes have umpires, who dress up for the occasion as well. “We’ve had umpires that really play it up with top hats on and a three-piece suit with a cigar. I think there would be a bunch of people in Little Falls who would like to play that role,” he said.
There’s no charge for the games that Krutz is planning.
“I think a lot of our parents and grandparents would enjoy watching us play again because we’ve become middle-aged men and they can watch us run around like we’re little kids again. Just a lot slower and more careful.”
If you would like to play or are interested in more information, you can email Andy Krutz at firstname.lastname@example.org
The event is sponsored by the Little Falls Historical Society and the Little Falls Family YMCA.
If you’d like to take a look at the old rule book, it is shown below.