Shouts of “Tallymaster, I swear I scored an ace,” rang out from the baseball diamonds at Willow Canyon High School in Surprise over the weekend for the third annual Arizona Territories Winter Classic vintage baseball tournament.
Participants, some dressed in vintage uniforms, had to ring a bell and say that phrase each time they scored under the watchful eye of an “arbitrator,” or umpire, wearing coattails and a top hat; the players couldn’t steal bases, and they would also be fined 25 cents if they spit or cursed.
Lance Bush, a member of the Arizona Territories Vintage Base Ball League team, the Glendale Gophers, said the retro rules bring out the wholesomeness of the “gentleman’s” sport. Bush started playing with the Glendale team three years ago after seeing a flier at a local batting cage.
“It’s pure; there’s no tainted this, that or the other,” Bush said.
His uniform for the day included knee socks, a page-boy cap and suspenders.
“It’s fun, and I can do it,” he said.
Seven teams, including Willow Canyon students and coaches, played in the event as a fund-raiser for the school’s baseball program.
“To me, it’s pretty surprising to see that the youth do as well with it as they do,” Bush said, adding the 150-year-old rules take some getting used to.
Julie Meditz’s son Tayler is a senior on the Willow Canyon team, and she said one of the things he likes most about the tournament is the opportunity to play against his coaches and school alumni.
“He enjoys it a lot,” Meditz said.
The tournament is also fun to watch, especially for baseball fans like new Surprise residents Lee and Irene Smith.
“It’s fun, it’s interesting and a little bit different,” Lee Smith said.