LANSING, Mich. — Baseball season has officially begun and Lansing will soon be welcoming a new team with a bit of a vintage feel.
“We’re called the Lansing Senators,” said Michael Jarema, who is starting the team.
He's a football fan with very little baseball experience.
“I’m a fan of the Detroit Lions so I watch football," Jarema said. “My only experience with baseball before this is playing T-ball when I was very young. I’m coming from a baseline of almost nothing.”
But he said there was “something intangible" that drew him to vintage baseball.
The name Lansing Senators isn't new.
“We’re based on the Lansing Senators minor league team from 1889,” Jarema said.
The playing rules they're going by date back even farther than that.
“We’ll be playing with 1867 rules because that’s just what’s commonplace for vintage teams around the area,” Jarema said.
Rules include no sliding, no gloves and no strikes.
“There are no strikes or balls called unless the umpire thinks that the pitcher or batter is deliberately stalling,” Jarema said.
The equipment also looks a little different. The balls have different stitching.
“This is what is now called lemon-peel stitching," Jarema said. "The ball is also a little bit bigger and a little bit less dense which helps with catching it bare handed.”
Jarema is planning to make the bats from scratch.
“Vintage bats are a little bit different in style," he said. "They don’t have a pronounced barrel at the top. It’s just kind of a cone of wood.”
The uniform is a custom design by Jarema himself.
“The pants are knickerbocker pants," Jarema said. "The shirt of it is a poly cotton material which helps a lot in the summer with the breath ability so we’re not dying in sweat drenched wool.”
The shoes are the only thing adding a 21st century touch to the game.
“We do use modern shoes though because no amount of skill is going to give 1800s shoes good arch support," Jarema said.
The co-ed team will travel around the state to play against other vintage baseball teams.
“Our season starts here at Frances Park on May 1," Jarema said. "Our first game is against the Monitor Baseball Club of Chelsea.”
Jarema said watching his dream of creating a team come true has been rewarding.
“It’s always really gratifying to put a lot of work into something and have it get traction and get going and have other people share that interest," he said.
Even though his modern day baseball knowledge is very slim, he's looking forward to leading the team to victory.
“Having been not growing up a baseball fan, that actually helps me out because I have fewer things to unlearn before I can learn the vintage rules," Jarema said.
If you're interested in joining the team, visit the Lansing Senators Vintage Base Ball Club facebook page.
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