Let's play ball! Springfield kicks off July 4th with “Throwback Baseball Game”

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – Every Fourth of July ends with fireworks, and in Springfield, every Independence Day begins with a retro baseball game.

“The players wanted to do it as a retro baseball game and it's become something that the community loves,” said Michael Haskis, executive director of Springfield Preservation and Revitalization (SPAR). “It also reflects the fact that Springfield is a historic district and that preservation has been such an important part of our district and the work we've done to revitalize it.”

SPAR hosts the Fourth of July Throwback Baseball Game at Klutho Park. The retro approach is a big deal here. Players wear authentic wool uniforms and old-school gloves and use wooden bats. SPAR sources the uniforms from suppliers who replicate the originals.

“It feels about as hot as it looks,” said Eastside captain Stuart Poplin. “These aren't breathable, they don't give. When you play a period-style baseball game, you wear period-style uniforms, so this is just as hot as it was back in the 1910s.”

One of the requirements to participate is to own a home in Springfield.

“I think this is one of the best ways for us to give back to the neighborhood,” Poplin said. “This is one of the coolest events we have in Springfield in one of the coolest neighborhoods in town. It's really important for us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and really showcase what this neighborhood means to the city of Jacksonville.”

Countless families begin their holiday morning by cheering on their team.

“It's a great experience,” said Springfield resident Ellie. “Everyone comes, there's food and festivities, and you can just sit with your neighbors and watch a game.”

“The community itself comes together, whether you’re on the east side or the west side,” said Westside Captain Jose Acevedo.

Although this is a holiday festival, the competition is still fierce.

“This year is going to be tough; we lost some players,” Acevedo said. “Unfortunately, one of the players went to the east side, but we're here.”

SPAR began game planning when the teams began training in March. The pitch is maintained by the players who prepare it for the season.

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