Watch: Townball club hosts first match at Hillsdale College

From Hillsdale College Townball Club

HILLSDALE — On Friday September 23rd, the Hillsdale College Townball Club held their first match on the central quad of the college campus. The game was made up of students, staff, and locals who were eager to participate and learn about the sport. The club has been organizing games since being granted official club status in April, following several months of playing under the support and direction of Twenty-First Century Townball, the official organization of this up-and-coming sport.

Twenty-First Century Townball is a bat-and-ball game based upon the version of baseball played in Massachusetts before the Civil War. Most vintage base ball clubs (including those on the East Coast) go only as far as the Civil war when looking for inspiration. The roots of the game go further back in time, before the New York Style of play came to dominate the national base ball scene.

The game at Hillsdale College began with the national anthem, followed by a ceremonial first pitch by First Lady Mrs. Penny Arnn, wife of the college President Dr. Larry Arnn. The game commenced thereafter, with two pickup teams forming 10 players to a side to start. Each team would grow to about 14 players later in the matches.

During the game, players were treated with the sights and sounds of base ball. Classical tunes filled the air, giving the game a unique atmosphere that gelled with the picturesque setting.

The “Swing Kids” (home team, pun intended) got a 3-0 lead in the first couple innings, which was quickly evened up with a few runs from the visitors (the “Townies”). It was a 4-4 game until the Swing Kids got four runs in a single inning, making it 8-4. The Townies held them to that four-point differential for at least two innings, barely holding on for survival. The Swing Kids needed just one run to end the game instantly.

It seemed like the tide was turning once the score got to 8-6, the Townies chasing close behind, but the Swing Kids had another good inning with three runs, forcing the end of the game at 11-6.

In townball, you must win by having at least eight runs and being ahead of the opponent by five runs. If the home team achieves this criteria first, the game ends instantly, whereas if the visitors get there first, the home team has one last inning to get within five runs. If both teams are within the five-point differential, it’s a race to who gets 13 runs first.

The club was spurred on by local Hillsdale resident Grant More, who brought the sport to Michigan from Oregon in the summer of 2021. More is forming a city team for Hillsdale dubbed the 'Hillsdale People', which will begin playing games against vintage base ball clubs in the northern Midwest as early as April, 2023. The People had their first six matches this summer in greater Detroit, Indianapolis, and Chelsea.

The best way to get involved in the sport in the Hillsdale area is to inquire Grant More about the city team in anticipation of the spring season coming in a few months. For those living in Hillsdale proper, the college club’s activities are technically open to non-students, but by next spring there will be more playing opportunities exclusive to non-students.

Contact: 21ctownball@gmail.com

For more information, Rules and game footage can be found at 21ctownball.com and @21ctownball on Instagram, respectively.

This article originally appeared on Hillsdale Daily News: Watch: Town Ball club hosts first match at Hillsdale College