The fifth program in a series of events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Fort Hays in its present location will be at 1 p.m. Aug. 26 at Historic Fort Hays. The program features a vintage base ball game between the Westerns Base Ball Club of Topeka and the Fort Hays Base Ball Club (a local aggregation representing Historic Fort Hays).
After the Civil War, soldiers stationed at various posts in Kansas played base ball (originally spelled as two words) to break the monotony of their daily routine and for the pure fun of the sport. In doing so, they helped to establish the game across the state. Among these base ballists were soldiers of the U.S. Cavalry and Infantry stationed at posts in northwest Kansas along the Smoky Hill Trail, principally Forts Harker, Hays and Wallace. From 1867 through 1887, games were played by soldiers stationed at the forts, whose opponents included other soldiers, civilian teams and even Native Americans. Occasionally, troopers on patrol, including companies of the Seventh Cavalry, played each other, with pickets posted “to prevent being surprised by Indians.” Names of the teams usually referred to the commanding officers — the Beechers, the Benteens and the Keoghs. The first game reported at Fort Hays was played in 1869, although few details are known. Thus, the rules to be used at the vintage base ball game will be taken from that year.
The game will follow brief presentations about base ball games played by soldiers stationed in the region and the nature of the evolving rules of early base ball. The Friends of Historic Fort Hays will sell copies of the recently published book, “Kansas Baseball, 1858–1941,” and author Mark Eberle will be available to sign copies of the book.
The program is free and open to the public. Bring a lawn chair and umbrella to enjoy an afternoon of vintage base ball.
Fort Hays State Historic Site is located 4 miles south of Interstate 70 Exit 157 at Hays. For more information, contact Fort Hays State Historic Site, 1472 Highway 183 Alt., Hays, KS 67601-9212; (785) 625-6812 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Society of Friends of Historic Fort Hays and the Kansas Historical Society do not discriminate on the basis of disability in admission to, access to or operation of its programs. The society requests prior notification to accommodate individuals with special needs or disabilities.