Grays and Tunnelmen split vintage baseball game in Bristol

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 6/19/24

The Providence Grays hosted the Lisbon Tunnelmen on the Bristol Town Common this past Saturday, part of a storied tradition of vintage baseball as part of the Fourth of July festivities.

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Grays and Tunnelmen split vintage baseball game in Bristol


A good vintage baseball game has long been a feature of the July 4th celebration in Bristol, and the tradition continued in 2024 as the Providence Grays hosted the Lisbon Tunnelmen on the Town Common this past Saturday.

The Providence Grays were established in 1878, then reconstituted in the spring of 1998 when several local fans banded together to form a tribute to the 1884 Grays, inspired by a league of similar historical base ball teams in New York. Today, the Grays are still going strong, the longest run of any vintage team in New England.

Founded in 2012, the Lisbon Tunnelmen pay homage to the first railroad tunnel in Connecticut and among the earliest railway tunnels built in America. Built in 1837 and put into production in 1839, the Taft Tunnel of Lisbon was built to connect Long Island to Massachusetts and is still in use today as part of the Providence and Worcester Railroad.

Both teams are members of the Mid Atlantic Vintage Baseball League, along with 20 other 19th century baseball clubs stretching from southern Virginia to Rhode Island.

Playing according to 1864 rules that were established in 1860’s “Beadle’s Dime Base-Ball Player,” batters could call for their choice of high or low pitches, the pitcher threw from only fifty feet away, and most players wore no gloves, catching line drives with their bare hands. In 1865, the bound rule was eliminated for fair fly balls. In later years the rules were changed to reflect a more skilled game, eventually leading to baseball as we know it today.

For Saturday’s meet-up, the teams played two games, the first one according to 1864 rules, which the Lisbon Tunnelmen won by a score of 9 to 6. The Providence Grays won the second game, played by the 1865 rules, 10 to 9 on a walk-off hit.

2024 by East Bay Media Group

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