Putting the Past in America’s Pastime

We’re big baseball fans. From signed baseballs and other memorabilia collected by L.L. himself (much of which still lives in our archives) to our current partnership with Boston’s Fenway Park, baseball is an important part of our lives here at L.L.Bean – and it’s been that way since the start of our company back in 1912.

Baseball memorabilia

Baseball memorabilia from the L.L.Bean archives


But did you ever think about what baseball was like before then? Wonder no more. If you’re lucky enough to live in Maine*, you can check out an exhibition game of vintage baseball at Pettengill Farm in Freeport this Sunday, June 23. It’s part of an entire day devoted to America’s pastime, including a kids’ mini baseball camp and fun run.

Maine’s own Dirigo Vintage Base Ball Club and Massachusetts-based Ipswich Brewers will play a game according to 19th-century rules. Players dress in period uniforms and even talk like it’s 1861.

Dirigo Vintage Base Ball Club

Maine’s home team: Dirigo Vintage Base Ball Club (Photo credit: Robert F. Bukaty, Bangor Daily News)


After the game, the community is invited to play against the “pros.” We’ll keep our fingers crossed for good weather – but not too warm; some of those old-time uniforms look hot!

The umpire

Even in the middle of summer, the umpire or “arbitrator” typically wears a tuxedo or other formal attire (Courtesy Freeport Historical Society)


Some of our employees watched these teams play last year, and we (literally) had a ball. We immediately noticed a few important differences between 19th- and 21st-century rules. For starters, fielders play barehanded; baseball gloves weren’t standard equipment until the 1890s, so you won’t find any here. Luckily, catching the ball on a single bounce still gets the batter out.

A fielder makes a barehand catch

A Dirigo fielder makes a barehand catch (Photo credit: Robert F. Bukaty, Bangor Daily News)



Photo credit: Robert F. Bukaty, Bangor Daily News


Whether you bring your own camp chairs or picnic blanket or sit on the bleachers, we hope you’ll come out and root for the home team. But sorry, you won’t be hearing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” That song wasn’t written until 1908 – almost 50 years too late for these teams (though still four years before L.L.Bean set up shop).

Ipswich vs. Dirigo

Photo credit: Robert Webb (Courtesy Freeport Historical Society)

A Dirigo player shows a young fan how to hold the bat

Courtesy Freeport Historical Society

A batter connects with a pitch

Photo credit: Robert F. Bukaty, Bangor Daily News


What: Vintage Baseball Game

When: Sunday, June 23 at 1:30 p.m. (events start at 10 a.m.)

Where: Pettengill Farm, Freeport, Maine

Admission: Adults $5, Kids free

For more information: Contact the Freeport Historical Society at (207) 865-3170 or info@freeporthistoricalsociety.org.


*If you can’t make it to Maine, don’t worry – there are vintage baseball teams located all across the country. The Vintage Base Ball Association can help you find a club in your area.

Are you ready for some baseball?

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