A few Chicago leagues put a fresh spin on the most American of sports.
Chicago Salmon Vintage Base Ball Club
Stumble onto a Chicago Salmon game and you may feel as if you’re having a Field of Dreams–esque hallucination. This team plays the kind of base ball (yes, it’s two words when it’s vintage) that men played in 1858. That means no gloves, wooden bats, trousers and old-fashioned rules, like if a fair or foul ball is caught after one bounce, the batter’s out. The Salmon play throughout the Midwest, but when they’re home (next game is July 31), you can catch them in Lincoln Park, usually drawing a sizable crowd of curiosity seekers.
RIC Cubs Wheelchair Softball
The National Wheelchair Softball Association gives two-wheeling bat-wielders like the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) Cubs a chance to hit it out of the park. Or, more specifically, McFetridge Sports Complex (3845 N California Ave), which is home to a specialized wheelchair softball field. The team is the result of a partnership between the Chicago Cubs and the ball club’s Cubs Care foundation. In addition to facing off against fellow area wheelchair softball leaguers, such as the Midwest Cicero Flyers, the RIC Cubs travel the country playing other teams. RIC also has a youth league.
Chicago Comets Beep Baseball
Being blind or visually impaired isn’t an impediment when it comes to beep baseball—it’s a requirement. Spectators may even hear the Chicago Comets games before they see them being played at Rainey Park (4350 W 79th St). That’s because in the National Beep Baseball Association, players rely strictly on sound. The batter gets four chances to swing at a beeping softball as it whizzes past him or her. Once the ball is hit, fielders follow the beep while the batter runs toward the sound of a buzzing base.
Double Door Liquors Wiffleball Club
It’s not exactly a league, more of an impromptu bar pickup game at Double Door (1572 N Milwaukee Ave, 773-489-3160). The bar’s staff extend Wiffle-ball challenges to bands and other area venues. While Metro and Reggie’s Rock Club have yet to step up to the plate, bands such as the Melvins and Dr. Dog have accepted. During one memorable match, a member of Canadian indie outfit the Sadies smacked the holey orb so hard, it was jammed in the Double Door’s ceiling for months.