Baseball goes back in time

The boys from Bethlehem put up a valiant fight on a sweltering day, but in the end the more experienced New York Mutuals pulled away to gain a 16-6 win over the local nine.

Well, that's how the story would have looked back in 1864.

In truth, the game was played Sunday at Elm Avenue Park, but the rules under which it was played were from the Civil War era back when pitchers threw underhand, you could record an out by catching the ball on one bounce and the umpire could consult with three people he deemed trustworthy" to determine a controversial call.

"It adds a whole new dimension to the game," said state assembly-man Tim Gordon. "Some of the rules help you make up for your mistakes."

The Mutuals " a traveling base-ball team based out of Long Island " specialize in playing by 19th-century rules. They were founded in 1999 to educate the public about the roots of the game, and they've traveled through the Northeast, the Midwest and parts of Canada playing games against local teams.

"We're just trying to spread the word about turn-of-the-century baseball," said Mutuals captain Al "Rocky" Belbol.

This year marked the second time that the Mutuals played Beth-lehem on the Fourth of July. Last year's inaugural game went badly for the home team, as the Mutuals scored early and often for a 28-3 victory,

Bethlehem fared better in this year's game. The Braves trailed 7-2 heading into the top of the sixth inning before the Mutuals put the game out of reach with four runs in the frame.

"I think they got 20 runs in the first inning last year, and we didn't want that to happen again," said Bethlehem captain and event organizer Steve Peterson.

That was fine with Belbol. "We like it to be a competitive game," he said.

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