Driving out of Washington DC was nothing short of a traffic nightmare. The drive to Gettysburg was only supposed to take 90 minutes but it took us closer to three hours. My co-pilot who had formerly been handing me Twizzlers, fell asleep. Bored (because I had no one to talk to), hungry (because someone stopped feeding me Twizzlers), exhausted (from a whirlwind tour of DC) and frustrated (because of the unbearable traffic) I turned up my radio and belted out some classic Disney tunes (secretly and petulantly trying to wake my navigator).
As we neared Gettysburg, the traffic thinned, the speed limit dropped to 55 and the highway went down to two lanes. We drove through gently rolling hills and upon crossing the Maryland-Pennsylvania state line, the sky turned a dark shade of gray. It wasn’t raining but it wasn’t not raining. There was a heavy mist, so thick that at 2 in the afternoon, my headlights came on and I had to turn on my windshield wipers. On our way to the hotel, we drove through battlefields, lined with wooden fences – the mist casually, eerily hung on top of the fences, with the occasional vulture perched on top.
We arrived at the wonderful Wyndham hotel of Gettysburg. We were warmly greeted by the staff at the front desk, checked in, took the elevator to the third floor, dropped our bags and fell into the white, fluffy, cloud-like bed.
Matt (my husband) plays in an 1860’s Base Ball club with the Royal Oak Wahoos. When his team was invited to the festival this July, I couldn’t resist an opportunity to travel (thanks to Wyndham and Women on Their Way) and he couldn’t say no to being immersed in history for an entire weekend.
Following our nap, we headed out to check in for the festival and wanted to explore the charming downtown. We landed at Gettysburg Eddie’s– a baseball themed restaurant and host to the weekend’s festival. It was busy but well worth the wait. We devoured our meals; mine: the best fettuccine alfredo with shrimp and broccoli I’ve ever had, Matts – was apparently less memorable because neither of us remember what he ate – only remembering how good it was. The staff was friendly and quick and as we rolled our stuffed bellies out the door, we stumbled upon a walking tour – a historical ghost tour of the town of Gettysburg.
Our guide was a retired Fire Fighter from New York City. He played the part of a Gettysburg farmer from the 1860s. He stayed in character, led us through the town with an authentic lantern and gave us chills with every story he told- he told it with such authority that it was as though he had experienced firsthand. We hung on every word – cautiously looking behind us for signs (or crossing our fingers for no signs) of the paranormal. We heard stories of soldiers and Gettysburg citizens, homes that were haunted, bridges that hid the spirits of confederate soldiers trying to get back south and saw remnants of bullet holes from guns shot 149 years ago.
The next morning we got ready for the base ball (it was two words in 1860) tournament. The clouds hung heavy in the sky, threatening rain on the first game for the Wahoo Base Ball Club of Royal Oak in the Gettysburg 3rd Annual Vintage Base Ball Festival. But we stayed dry.
Fourteen base ball clubs from the Midwest and East Coast competed in the gentlemanly game of 1860’s base ball at Hickory Hollow Farms; they pitch underhand, don’t wear gloves and wear period uniforms. The hitter is called the striker, the catcher – the behind, the pitcher – the hurler. They say things like, “Well struck, Sir,” when the ball is hit well and “Huzzah” when someone “tallies an ace” (scores a run). They mind their manners and except for the occasional disagreement – they act like perfect gentlemen. It’s base ball from a simpler time – in its truest form.
The Royal Oak Base Ball Club has been around since 2004, founded by Jon “Preacher” Miller and Tim “Flash” Gorman. Every gentleman in the club has a nickname attributed to his career or hobby. It is truly a joy to watch base ball the way it was played back then. The Wahoo’s had a perfect record at the end of the festival – they didn’t win a single game – but it can be agreed upon that every member of the club had the experience of a lifetime. And as for me, Innkeeper’s wife, I couldn’t be more proud to have been able to be a crank (spectator) at this incredible festival.