The Brown House announced it is leading off March with a lecture focused on education about the early history of baseball.
Guest Services Specialist Tracy Lawson said her husband, Bob, will be giving the talk at the historic home at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 11. Both Tracy and Bob grew up baseball fans, rooting for the powerhouse Cincinnati Reds of the 1970s, simply known as “the Big Red Machine.”
The timing of the lecture coincides with the beginning of spring in addition to Spring Training games, which are currently being played in Arizona and Florida, respectively.
Bob has since become a collector of old baseball memorabilia, said Tracy, adding that he is a member of the Ohio Village Muffins, a team that plays using vintage rules from the founding of the game. The team also helps educate the public in addition to entertaining it.
Tracy said baseball is inherently connected to the Victorian Era with its founding as a “gentlemen’s club sport.” Iconic songs, such as “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and “Casey at the Bat” also trace their lineage to that timespan, she added.
““The reason we decided to do this at the Brown House is because we are fascinated by all things Victorian,” Lawson said. “We want to try and explain how they relate to us today.”
While the game currently lasts through the bottom of the ninth inning if one team is ahead, Tracy said the original game was played until a team plated 21 runs. Bob’s lecture will also inform the public about how Englishman Harry Chadwick developed the sport’s early rules, not Abner Doubleday.
Tracy said the sport also experienced a growth in popularity during the Civil War because Union prisoners of war would play baseball in front of their Confederate captors. Union troops also played for recreation during free time on the battlefield.
“The Civil War changed that, and they would teach the other soldiers,” Tracy said. “Commanding officers saw this facilitated camaraderie, and northern prisoners of war in the South spread the game there.”
Col. W.D. Wylie, the city’s namesake, has a special connection to baseball as well with one of his campaign promises to have the town named after him revolving around purchasing new baseball uniforms for the local team.
In addition to the lecture, the Brown House will also display vintage photos and other memorabilia from the early days of baseball for visitors to examine. The museum currently has a few photographs that date back as far as 1900, said Tracy, along with 1915 and one from the 1930s.
“We’ve got all kinds of fun memorabilia and vintage photos,” Tracy said. “We also have a couple of old uniforms, bats and vintage baseballs that were used during that era.”
In the event a resident may have some old baseball memorabilia, Tracy said the museum would love to know about it.
“We’re hoping that if anyone has anything relating to Wylie’s baseball history, that they will come forward,” Tracy said.
Additionally, the Brown House will host a simultaneous exhibition on fashion from the Victorian Era, focused on author Kate Greenaway’s contributions.
Greenaway critiqued the restrictive women’s clothing at the time, namely in children, which limited the ability of children to run around, said Tracy, adding that one of her arguments was to allow children a greater ability to play.
Greenaway’s arguments represented a change in philosophy when it came to the idea of what children were in the late 19th century.
“She pointed out that children had the right to be children,” Tracy said. “They were thought of as little adults at the time. With industrialization, not everyone had to work or starve, and they could go to school and get an education.”
On display will be information about the aesthetic movement of the 1870s and 1880s, Tracy said. There will also be a ladies underwear set to help display how restrictive clothing of the time could be.
Both exhibits will run through the end of April, and no registration is required for the special lecture March 11. Tracy said anyone and everyone is welcome to attend the free exhibits and lecture at the Brown House.
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