DYERSVILLE, IOWA — The weather and venue were picture-perfect last Friday so, an 8-7 loss to the Canton Cornshuckers in the 7th inning didn’t sting that much for the Ganymedes, Oregon’s vintage base ball team.
“I’ve never been here before so being able to play here is pretty cool,” said Steve Tilton, a long-time Ganymede player and McKinney, Texas, resident who flew out just for the games.
The 20-member Ganymede squad played a double-header against their Michigan counterparts in both teams’ inaugural competition on the field made famous by the 1989 Field of Dreams movie set in Dyersville, Iowa.
“We have enough for two teams so we are playing a double header. This is a bucket-list game for everybody. The weather could not be more perfect,” said Mark Herman, team caption for the Ganymedes. “It was raining when we left home, but it stopped once we crossed the Mississippi River.”
Under sunny skies and with temperatures in the mid-70s the Ganymedes and the Cornshuckers squared off playing 1867 rules on the perfectly manicured field, viewable from the porch of the house used in the movie.
Corn plants were just beginning to show through their rows in the field just past the outfield fence.
Vintage rules base ball (spelled as two words in the 1800s) is played with authentic wool uniforms, no gloves, and gentlemanly conduct.
The Ganymedes rented the venue for three hours on Friday night with exclusive use of the field. The first game was held under sunlight with the second lit by field lights.
“The site is also booked for the new MLB August block out dates for their annual game and a few vintage teams will be getting games there in the future,” said Herman.
The Oregon Park District filled a tour bus with Ganymede fans who made a day of the 2-hour trip to Dyersville to see the games. Fifty bus riders played Ganymede trivia during a portion of the trip. Some were first-time fans while others have followed the team since its inception in 2005.
“One of the questions was who were the players who have played for the Ganymedes since 2005 and I knew it,” said Sandy Strohecker, whose son Tim “Two Base” Strohecker” is one of the original three.
Nicknames are also part vintage base ball.
Nate Girton, Oregon High School baseball coach, drove out for the games and sat comfortably in his yard chair along the third base line.
“It’s my third time out here. I think it is every kid’s dream to come here and play. For some of these guys, they are living their livelong dream. As a baseball coach sitting out here in the ‘cheap seats’ I’m jealous,” Girton said.
Dave and Shirley Stenger of Oregon also made the trip.
“This is pretty neat. There are a lot of Oregon people here,” said Dave.
“Hopefully this will get more people interested and they will come out to the Chana school to watch the home games,” said Shirley.
Crete and Bob LeFevre of Mt. Morris arrived on the tour bus. Bob has been at Ganymede games in the past, while Crete, a lifelong softball player and also an IHSA umpire, is new to the 1867-style game.
“The first game was good. It’s interesting, but I wouldn’t want to play by these rules. And the bus ride was nice,” said Crete. “When we arrived we got to listen to one of the ‘ghosts’ from the movie. He was a catcher. He spoke to us when we got here. He was on the set for 21 days and was on screen for 12 seconds.”
And four Oregon High School athletes also watched the game while sitting in the grass near left field
“I would play it. It’d be fun,” said Liz Mois, a member of the OHS softball team.
“Nope, I would need a glove,” said Olivia Wynn, volleyball player.
“Obviously, I would play,” said Kyler Early, whose dad Justin “Butter” Early is a Ganymede player.
On Saturday, the teams played again, this time on the Ganymedes’ home field in Oregon.
“Unfortunately, Canton swept the series. Both teams played well on a beautiful late spring day!,” said Herman in an email. “We look forward to playing the Cornshuckers again at the Henry Ford Museum Greenfield Village World Tournament of Historic Base Ball on Aug. 13 and 14 in Dearborn, Michigan.
The Ganymedes’ next match will be June 12 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin against the Milwaukee Grays.
The Ganymedes play home games on the lawn (Iron Chest Field) next to the historic Chana School Museum, located along River Road in Oregon. Those games are played using 1860 rules.
The team’s run for a title at the 18th annual World Tournament of Historic Base Ball in 2021 ended with a “well-played” loss to perennial tournament champion the Saginaw Old Golds in August, capping the team’s ‘best-ever’ run at the unique competition.
For a list of 1867 rules and schedule information, visit the Ganymedes Facebook page.