Roxbury’s vintage “base ball” team, the Roxbury Nine, has revived our national pastime exactly as it was played in the Good Old Days of 1898. For more than a decade, the Nine displayed a dedication to authentic bare-knuckle action, and they have the trophies and the calluses to prove it.
Throughout the early 20th century, “town ball” would bring farmers, blacksmiths, and shopkeepers to Helen Gould Shepard’s resplendent Kirkside Park on summer Saturdays to play with teams from the neighboring hamlets. After decades of neglect, Kirkside was restored to its former simple elegance with a lot of community sweat and dedication. Once complete, someone said, “What a great place to play base ball!” And so the Roxbury Nine was re-born.
The “new” Nine included local tradesmen, professionals, farmers, and teachers who relish the purity and all-out action of the 19th-century game. The rules allow only the catcher to use a mitt; the rest of the defense goes after pop flies and grounders with bare hands or an unpadded “work” glove. The Nine have claimed ownership of the coveted Harry M. Keator Vintage Base Ball during every season the tournament has been played.