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Community Voices: Decatur Team Gives Life to 1858 Baseball

The Rock Springs Ground Squirrels faced off against the Eastwood Iron Horses

For the last 25 years, the Rock Springs Ground Squirrels baseball team has been keeping traditional "base ball" alive. The team's founder, Lee Slider, explains the team's origins stem from an invitation from the Ohio Village Muffins in 1993 to pull a team together to play a game by the 1858 rules. 

"I got a phone call from a friend of mine who works for the Ohio Historical Society there in the Summer of 1993 and he says 'We have a flat spot in our schedule. Would you get a bunch of guys to come over and play vintage baseball?'" Said Lee "Of course, that first game was a disaster for us." 

After that first match, Lee expected to go home and forget about vintage baseball. 

"No such luck." He said, "We had a fellow who was from the Wall Street Journal and they stuck him on our team. In September, the Wall Street Journal came out with a story about that game and a picture above the fold." 

The popularity of vintage baseball spread quickly across the Midwest after that first match. Now, there are dozens of teams following the rules of yesterday to continue the game today. 

The team is always looking for new players and it is emphasized that "no experience is required". 

For more information and the team's schedule, find the Rock Springs Ground Squirrels on Facebook

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Community Voices features a variety of  people in our state and community talking about things they care about.

Lizzie Roehrs is a graduate of the University of Illinois in Springfield. Her work is featured in the Community Voices program for NPR Illinois. Her passion is human interest stories. In addition to producing Community Voices, Lizzie also worked in development for NPR Illinois as a graphic designer and social media expert.
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