By Chris Rotolo |LITTLE SILVER – The crack of the bat and familiar snap of a high-velocity leather ball meeting the cushion of a mitt were noticeably absent from Sickles Field Saturday afternoon, when baseball fans were transported back in time to 1864.More than 100 local baseball enthusiasts attended a matchup between the Monmouth Furnace Base Ball Club and the Hoboken Nine. The franchises are members of the Mid-Atlantic Vintage Base Ball League, an organization that pays homage to organized baseball in its earliest format.These vintage games are governed by the same rules adopted by the National Association of Base Ball Players in December 1863, before the use of gloves and mitts when players instead utilized their callused bare hands to catch and throw a spongier “lemon peel ball,” which earned its nickname from the four distinct lines of stitching holding its leather shell and wrapped twine insides together.Donning Civil War-era caps, flannel shirts with sleeves rolled up to the elbow and long wool pants tucked into socks that rose to just below the knee, these time-traveling ball players took the field in support of the nearby Parker Homestead, a pre-Colonial America household that predates the teams’ style of play by more than 140 years.Parker Homestead. Courtesy George Mazzeo“The common link between the Parker family and their home and our team is baseball. A member or possibly members of this family were fans of the game, which we know based upon what has been discovered in their personal belongings,” said Russ McIver, the manager of Monmouth Furnace and a local historian who sits on the board of the Parker Homestead.What was uncovered in June 2015 was a collection of baseball cards circa 1909 from the Philadelphia Caramel Company. The cards were uncovered by homestead archivist Liz Hanson, who located the partial set in a bent and dented cookie tin, one which she almost tossed out with the trash before opening the lid and discovering a century-old treasure trove.The collection of cards, which includes Baseball Hall of Famers like Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson, has not yet been appraised; despite not being a complete set it is still estimated to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.Courtesy George MazzeoHanson found 27 cards in total, with some doubles. The complete set consists of 25 cards, including 10 Hall of Fame inductees and the infamous Ed Cicotte who in 1919 would be implicated in the Black Sox Scandal.“The child of the family, Stan Parker, who was 12 years old in 1909, had collected these cards,” Hanson said Saturday, after setting up the collection in a display case within the historical home. “We’ve also found a baseball glove that’s not quite as old as the cards, but looks to be from the 20s or 30s.”“It’s pretty easy to assume that with five 20th-century boys growing up in this home, the thread between baseball, which was America’s game and the entertainment of the time, is easy to establish,” Hanson added.Courtesy George MazzeoLocal baseball fan Janet Wiley said her “jaw dropped” when she laid eyes on the collection. “It’s an incredible piece of history. I had heard about the cards of that era and have only ever seen photos on the internet but never actually up close and personal. It was a thrill,” the Tinton Falls resident said. “It’s historic sites like this and events like this game that remind me why I live in this area. We embrace our history. And it’s a lot of fun.”Though it may be fun for spectators of the vintage game to be caught up in the time warp, for the modern player adhering to historically accurate rules, the game itself takes some getting used to. From the underhand pitching to fly balls caught on one hop still registering as an out, the regulations can be challenging.Courtesy George Mazzeo“It’s definitely a little bit of an adjustment. Catching the ball on a hop and trying to catch the ball at all without it bouncing off your hands, it can be a little frustrating at times,” Monmouth Furnace outfielder Rich Stepnosky said with a grin. “But it’s about preserving and honoring the history of the game and sharing it with the fans who come out. We try to be as accurate as possible with our play, our uniforms, the way we speak, even our mannerisms. We really take over the time period.”Monmouth Furnace is back at it July 14 in New Brunswick.This article first appeared in the July 12 – 19, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Canopy Growth Corp. will have the first privately run legal weed stores announced in Canada under a landmark deal to supply and produce pot in Newfoundland and Labrador.The publicly traded company is the largest of its kind in the country with e-commerce operations and grow sites in six other provinces. It’s perhaps best known for its celebrity partnership with American rapper Snoop Dogg under the brand Leafs by Snoop.Its $40 million production plant in or near St. John’s will have a retail outlet in addition to three more storefronts in the province.Canopy CEO Bruce Linton said a custom brand from Newfoundland and Labrador has great potential for sales outside the province. But he was coy when asked if consumers may soon see strains marketed under such labels as: Yes B’y or Best Kind.“I have some very specific branded names of products that I want to bring out of here which would be really foolish for me to say now because everybody would grab them,” he told a news conference Friday in St. John’s.“But I think we can actually create products … that become extremely interesting for a lot of people in the country, and probably some exports internationally.”Linton said Canopy Growth Corp. (TSX:WEED) is growing fast in Canada and is exporting to Germany, with other countries soon to follow.Critics were quick to say the agreement announced Friday is a “giveaway” that will block smaller producers — concerns Industry Minister Christopher Mitchelmore downplayed.“What this deal with Canopy has done is secure supply,” he told a news conference. “It also secures production and jobs. We’re open and in active discussion and negotiation with a number of other companies across the province and across the country.“There was no special treatment given to Canopy Growth.”The company will supply up to 8,000 kilograms a year for two years, with a one-year extension option, once recreational pot is legalized next July. There is no minimum purchase requirement.The province has no licensed production sites yet so time was of the essence to nail down a reputable source, Mitchelmore said.“This provides stability and confidence.”Canopy Growth will ship product in at first, but will also spend more than $40 million to build a plant that will employ about 145 people. It’s to operate for at least two decades and is expected to produce 12,000 kilograms of flower and oil products a year by 2019.Mitchelmore said the province will contribute to construction costs by reducing remittances the company pays on each sale until those costs are recouped — up to $40 million.Canopy will also invest $100,000 a year in a research-and-development program over five years to be matched by the province.It’s meant to educate other producers under its CraftGrow program.“Our vision is for an industry which leads to production, job creation, supply chain development and research and development in this province,” Mitchelmore said.He estimates the province will ultimately have about 100 pot stores or more.Canopy has also partnered with various groups to educate the public about the dangers of driving high.The province’s liquor corporation will set the price in licensed stores. Recreational pot will be restricted to consumers 19 and older for use in private residences, and will be sold by private retailers.The federal government has moved to legalize recreational weed next July, but left distribution and regulation to the provinces.Interim NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said the “secretively brokered” Canopy deal is a missed chance for economic development in a province that desperately needs it. Worse, she said the governing Liberals are giving the company cash breaks that will ultimately be worth millions of dollars as Canopy is free to export surplus product with little local benefit.“This is a real giveaway,” she said in an interview. “What does it say to people in our agricultural industry who saw this as a new growth opportunity?“I think they’ve just been knocked out of the game.”Follow @suebailey on Twitter.