Alexander Cartwright IV is a baseball fanatic. Yes, you love the game, too, but chances are it’s in a catch-an-occasional-Mariners-game, browse-the-sports-section sort of way. Cartwright dresses up in old-fashioned uniforms and plays according to nineteenth-century rules. Chalk it up to genealogy. His great-great grandfather, Alexander Joy Cartwright Jr., helped invent the game. Cartwright Rules, written in 1845, established the diamond, foul territory, and three strikes yer out.
Cartwright Four isn’t alone. When the Washingtonian from Lake Tapps made a pilgrimage to his ancestor’s home field in Hoboken, New Jersey, for baseball’s 150th-anniversary celebration in the early ’90s, he was amazed to see the variety of reenacters who came together to play by the outdated rules—a dozen teams, hailing from as far away as Russia.
Cartwright came home and did what any self-respecting Washington State obsessive does: He created a Web site. On the Pacific Northwest Vintage Base Ball League site (pnwvbl.mrbaseball.com) Cartwright earnestly chirps: “The time for Vintage Base Ball has arrived in the Northwest.” It most certainly has not. Teams had already formed in Portland and Vancouver, Washington, but around Puget Sound, no dice—the Mariners, Rainiers, and various city councils have rejected Cartwright’s pleas for sponsorship.
If vintage baseball ever does arrive, though, you can count on a retro-knickered Cartwright to cheer on the game his family gave the world, and to enforce what he says are the cardinal rules of old-school ball: No betting, no cursing, no spitting.