The Full Story
The Greatest 19th Century Base Ball Festival in America!
What started as a small 6 club event has transformed in to one of the largest festivals of its kind in the US. Back in 2009, the Washington DC Base Ball Festival had just finished a 3 year run and a few clubs wanted from the east wanted to play a few teams from the Pittsburgh area. Nobody really wanted to travel 6 hours to play the others so a great idea was hatched! The Elkton Eclipse approached what is today Destination Gettysburg to see if there was any interest in helping to promote a small event in their city. Well the response was overwhelming. The two quickly teamed up with Gettysburg Eddies and the Gettysburg Base Ball Tournament was born. In 2010 6 clubs: the Elkton Eclipse, Delaware Diamond States, Talbot Fair Plays, Flemington Neshanock, Pittsburgh Franklins and Somerset Frosty Sons of Thunder gathered at Hickory Hollow Farm where 3 fields were set up. In that first tournament, the Talbot Fair Plays defeated the Elkton Eclipse in the championship and a great tradition began.
News of the tournament quickly spread all over the country and suddenly, many teams wanted to come and compete in the tournament. In 2011 we expanded to 9 clubs and then in 2012 we maxed out Hickory Hollow with 12 clubs from New England to Colorado. Having expanded to 12, the tournament concept was abandoned for the festival format that we still use today.
SCHROEDER FAMILY FARM
After 3 years at Hickory Hollow, the festival quickly outgrew the farm on the outskirts of Gettysburg. The pressure to add more clubs was too much and the festival was lucky enough to find the new owner of a farm that had a significant history during the battle and was where the film Gettysburg was shot. It was also where the battle reenactment was held every year. The festival found a great partner in the Schroeder Family and where it has taken place every year since then. The festival quickly expanded to 18 then 22 and now it sits at 32 clubs from all over North America.
Today, the Festival is a great reunion of players that have befriended each other either from the festival itself or through bonds of playing the same game each year for many years. The Festival's goal is to show the citizens of Adams County and the fans who come to the event what a baseball game was like in Gettysburg in 1864. We wanted to show a different side of the town besides blood and battles. When fans come out to see a game, they get to see teams play against each other using the same rules and customs of 1864 while using the same style of equipment and uniforms of the mid-19th century. It takes fans back to a time before million-dollar contracts, televisions,...and gloves!
We wanted fans to see what baseball was intended to be. A game where pitchers would place the ball so batters could put it in play. A game that took about an hour and a half to play not four hours. A game where players played for fun and exercise instead of for greed. Come back to a simpler time and witness how baseball was meant to be played.
We have been fully involved in the Gettysburg community since the day we arrive on the scene. We were members of the chamber of commerce as well as Destination Gettysburg to show that we wanted to be part of the community.
Each year, we always give back to the community. Gettysburg Little League runs the parking lot and is able to raise a lot of money so the kids of Gettysburg can play baseball for a significantly lower cost. We have raised tens of thousands of dollars to preserve battlefield land for future generations. We have donated hundreds of dollars to the LK5K foundation which raises money in the community for cancer research. We want to be part of Gettysburg and show our appreciation for the community as they have for us! As a 501c3 non-profit corporation, we know all about giving back as well as teaching the history of base ball to all our fans!