Players Jason Adkinson, Dave Horihan and Mike Naranjo of the Mesa Miners. Photo by Yevette Vargas
Home » History » Vintage Base Ball brings slice of history to Globe diamond

Vintage Base Ball brings slice of history to Globe diamond

Baseball has been America’s favorite pastime since the 1860s. On a sunny Saturday in March 2024, the fans at Central Field in Globe got a living lesson on how the game was played way back then.

“This is 1861 Civil War era base ball,” says Jonathan Sukosky. “Out here there are no gloves or helmets.” (Note: It is tradition, in writing about vintage base ball to spell it out as two words, not the one word that is used today) 

A 2016 GHS graduate, Jonathan played right field for the Globe Tigers and now plays that same position for the Phoenix Senators, a team he joined when he went to check out a vintage base ball game last October. The Senators were short a player, and though he hadn’t played in years. Jonathan decided to “suit up.” In vintage terms, that means a wool jersey.

The ball players have names like Candyman, Sticks, Tomalicious, and Biscuit Pants. The play is fun and friendly but very competitive. Rivalries are forming. The Vintage Base Ball League boasts seven teams, including an all-women’s team, the Maricopa Maidens. The dream is a league of 12 teams, with games in more communities around the state.

 “All you need is nine players, old-style uniforms, and a fun attitude,” says Josh “Betty” White, a left-fielder for the Bisbee Black Sox.

Vintage Base Ball

The Bisbee Black Sox took their name from the 1918 World Series scandal. The Chicago White Sox players banned from the major leagues (including Shoeless Joe Jackson) played out of Bisbee.

“You learn to play a little softer and easier when grabbing a ball with your bare hands,” says Patrick “Mayor” Murphy, captain of the Higley Haymakers.

Patrick grew up in Bisbee and joined the vintage league in 2017. Also a fast-pitch player, he likes the different feel of vintage play. In 2022, he founded the Higley Haymakers and led them to the league championship a year later.

“We want to have a great time, but we want to win,” says Patrick.

A lot has changed about baseball in 160 years. Many of the rules in modern baseball are there to improve safety. Other changes are a mere change of term. The umpire was an arbitrator. A run was called an ace. The batter is a striker. The field is the same size, but the vintage ball is a bit mushier. There are no called strikes and a one-bounce fly-out. No protective gear for the catcher. If a ball bounces fair, it’s fair. The jerseys are wool. No branding. No plastic glasses. No spitting. Cursing will cost you quarters.

The age of vintage base ball players ranges from 14-75, but skews older. Some played baseball in high school and beyond and some haven’t played since Little League. Bisbee Black Sox pitcher and team captain, Steve Wanner, had never played before. Teammate Ken “Castle Rock” joined the Bisbee team in his thirties looking for “something different” to do.

“You can only go to so many bars in a week,“ he jokes. 

Popular in the midwest since the 1990s, interest in vintage baseball in this region grew from the Copper City Classic in Bisbee. The annual tournament raises funds for The Friends of Warren Ballpark, a non-profit group that maintains the old wooden stadium and the country’s oldest and longest-functioning ballpark. The vintage league that kept that streak going during the pandemic.

Founded in 2009, the Black Sox took their name from the 1918 World Series scandal. The Chicago White Sox players who were banned from the major leagues (including Shoeless Joe Jackson) played out of Bisbee.

Central Field in Globe

Tucson Saguaros playing the field with Mesa Miners up to bat, at Globe’s historic Central Field on March 9 for the tournament. Photo by LCGross

The Arizona Vintage Base Ball League plays a festival-style schedule. Each month, a different team hosts the tournament. When the Yuma team disbanded, no one was left to host the March tournament.

“I said, bring it on over,“ says Jonathan. “Give the players a chance to play on a nice field.”

Jonathan is head groundskeeper for Globe schools, statistician for the Globe Tigers baseball team and unofficial historian of Central Field, located at 529 Mayss Street in Globe

“I found mention of it in an 1891 newspaper article,” he says. “A 4th of July game was played at this site.”

The first grandstand built on the site was south-facing, common in the day. The field was home to the Globe Bears, a class D minor league team from 1929-1931. The Globe Bears merged with the Miami Miners to become the Globe-Miami Browns; they played in the Arizona–Texas League from 1947 to 1950 and the Arizona–Mexico League in 1955. Minor league action ended there, but the field played on. It was used for baseball and football, wrestling and rodeos.

Pictured (left): Brian Skerven, who plays for the Mesa Miners, played in College, and had a tryout with the Minnesota Twins. He has played in the league for nine years and goes by the handle, “Biscuit Pants.” Pictured (right): The Father/Son duo of Wes and Jonathan Sukosky is the vision and muscle behind Central Field’s award-winning status as one of the best to play on. The field has been voted ‘Field of the Year in ‘21, ‘22 and ‘23 in the 3a Southcentral league The Sukosky’s are going for a 4th title this year. The quality of the field and its historical roots dating back to 1861 are two of the main reasons the Vintage League agreed to play in Globe. Photos by LCGross

“It was pretty much everything for the town,” says Jonathan. “Then in the 1980s, Coach Eldon Dallas turned the field around and put it in its current state.”

Today, it is an award-winning field, impeccably groomed with all-natural grass. For nine months, it was winter rye; for three months, it was standard Bermuda. Five years ago, it was a mess with trees and weeds.

“It takes a lot of time and love, and money,” says Wes Sukosky, head coach of the Globe Tigers baseball team, who first started developing Central Field in 2019, after years of managing fields for Pinal Little League. 

Today that hard work has paid off. The games end with a brief ceremony. The teams line up and shake hands. Then they thank the arbitrators for a fair game, their opponents for the challenge and the fans who came out to cheer them on. They thank the Globe Tigers baseball team for putting on the game.

“We’ve got to play games in other cities to show people what it’s like,” says Ken “Castle Rock” of Bisbee.“Once they try it, they’ll fall in love with it.“

Wes Sucosky was presented with a custom ball for hosting the 2024 Vintage Baseball Festival. Photo by LCGross

About Patti Daley

A traveler, Patti Daley came to Globe in 2016 to face the heat, follow love, and find desert treasure. She writes in many formats and records travel scraps and other musings at

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