The vintage base ball games at Grand Hotel on May 18th will not only include 19th century base ball but also will represent three decades of historic interpretation on Mackinac Island.
Brian “BT” Thomas, a fielder for the Monitor Base Ball Club, was a historical interpreter at Fort Mackinac during the 1990s. He served faithfully for many summers wearing the wool of Mackinac soldiers and giving tours to thousands of visitors. Thomas’ “enlistment” ended in the late 90s but he still returns to Fort Mackinac and suits up on occasion. Following his enlistment Thomas would go on to help found the Monitor Vintage Base Ball Club in Chelsea and the Walker Tavern Wheels Vintage Base Ball Club in Brooklyn, MI.
Jason “Gypsy” Kladiva, umpire and Grand Hotel Director of Security, began his enlistment at Fort Mackinac shortly after Brian Thomas departed. Kladiva served full seasons at Fort Mackinac in 2000 and 2001 and would return to give tours during several seasons in the fall. When he wasn’t at Fort Mackinac he played vintage base ball with the Chicago Salmon, the Deep River Grinders (Hobart, IN), the Diamond BBC (Portage, IN), and the Welkin BBC (Port Huron, MI). In 2008 and 2009, Kladiva hosted a radio show, “Vintage Base Ball This Week”, that covered all 200+ vintage base ball clubs in the United States and Canada. Using this venue, Kladiva helped clubs all over the country to organize and begin playing base ball by mid-19th century rules. His final enlistment ended at Fort Mackinac in 2009 and he began work at Grand Hotel the following year.
Theodore Weeks, scorekeeper, served one season (2011) as a soldier at Fort Mackinac before coming to Grand Hotel. Weeks, a year-round security guard at the hotel, strayed from his love of historic bicycles to take his first swing at vintage base ball in 2012. As the scorekeeper he also keeps a close eye on safety during the match to ensure that players and spectators do not take the game to neighboring Cadotte Avenue and in the way of passing carriages. On his days off, Weeks travels by boat to Mackinac City where he gives the lighthouse keeper at Mackinaw Point Lighthouse a day off. He and Kladiva can often be seen riding their high wheel bicycles around Mackinac Island.
You can be sure Thomas, Kladiva and Weeks will take every chance to share the history of Mackinac Island with visitors during the vintage base ball games and will begin sharing before the matches even start. Kladiva and Weeks will begin the day with a historic walking tour of downtown Mackinac Island at 10 am that will begin at the Shepler dock and end at the base ball field (located between the Grand Hotel tennis courts and the Gate House). The base ball games will follow at 12 noon and 2 pm. The tour and base ball games are free to the public.