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Ballston to plan 225th anniversary

1850s baseball game among likely events

Sunday, January 13, 2013
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— This summer, the town of Ballston will celebrate a time when Ballston was part of Albany County, almost all the land was farmland and there was no stealing in baseball.

Historian Rick Reynolds is seeking volunteers to help him organize a one-day event marking the 225th anniversary of what then was called Mr. Ball’s Town, incorporated in 1788.

In addition to an exhibit of historical photos and some history-related entertainment, Reynolds wants to organize some old-fashioned baseball.

“I’m hoping I could get some volunteers to play baseball 1850s style,” he said. Back then, baseball was played on a square rather than a diamond, stakes were used instead of bases and there was only one out per inning.

“It makes the game go much faster,” Reynolds said. Bunting, stealing and leading hadn’t been done yet, and if a player catching a fly ball fell on the ground during the catch, the batter was declared safe.

Reynolds also has organized anniversary celebrations in 2009 in Ballston Lake and 2011 in Burnt Hills.

“Those were designed primarily because I have so many pictures and so many articles in my office that nobody gets to see,” he said.

Hundreds of people attended each event, and he hopes to get even more people to turn out to the Ballston one.

“It’ll be a bigger celebration because it will encompass the entire town,” he said.

In addition to the photo and historical exhibit, Reynolds plans to have more active events; at the previous celebrations there were a clown and a Civil War re-enactor.

“We bring in some other things that are related to the history of the town as well,” Reynolds said.

The town is named for the Rev. Eliphalet Ball, who established a settlement with a couple dozen people in the 1770s and over the next several years became a respected citizen who hosted political meetings in his church, Reynolds writes on the town’s website.

Balls Town was established as a district in 1775 as part of Albany County and then incorporated as a town in 1788. There were four towns then in what is now Saratoga County: Saratoga, Stillwater, Ballston and Halfmoon.

“It was much bigger than it is now,” Reynolds said of the town’s physical size, adding that the borders were slightly vague then.

The other towns were formed later, breaking up the county into smaller divisions.

Of course, the town’s population was very small then despite the large area; Ballston’s current suburban communities developed only in the second half of the 20th century, Reynolds said.

Reynolds aims to hold the first meeting later this month to start planning the celebration. Anyone interested in working on the committee may call him at 399-6778 or email rreynolds@townofballstonny.org.

 
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