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Townball comes to Turlock
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Townball players can be seen donning vintage equipment as an ode to the era of Massachusetts style baseball (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

Baseball is very much known as America’s pastime, but a deeper dive shows that there have been multiple versions of the game throughout the decades. One group of ball players travelling the country took a pit stop in Turlock to spread awareness of the game’s early history using their own newly invented game: Townball.

Townball is a game based on a version of baseball played in Massachusetts before the Civil War. Massachusetts style was one of the two most popular versions of the game, joining the traditional New York style. Unlike in New York, the Massachusetts game had no foul territory, any ball that was hit by the batter was considered to be in play, there were five bases around a rectangular field and baserunners were not required to remain within the basepaths while advancing from base to base.

Daniel Jones is the mind behind modern Townball. As a baseball historian and math teacher at University High School in Fresno, Jones thought to combine Massachusetts style baseball and aspects of cricket to create Townball for his students to play in their free time. Jones now teaches at Veritas School in Newberg, Oregon, a town that has embraced the game and adopted their own team. Jones and many of his students are taking a nationwide tour to help grow the game.

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Grant More, a native of Turlock, and his Newberg Townball team teach local Little Leaguers the history of pre-Civil War baseball (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

“One of the main things that attracts people to the game is how fun it is… It’s controlled chaos, which is what people love about anything fun,” Jones said.

Jones explained that many vintage baseball groups and organizations today do not cover baseball’s history prior to the Civil War, which is why he feels it’s important to educate as many people as possible.

Another way in which the game’s early history is being preserved is through the equipment used by many of the Townball players. Participants can be seen donning flannel jerseys, vintage baseball gloves and playing with a soft, hand-stitched lemon peel baseballs.

“We tapped into what other vintage groups were doing in terms of the vintage jerseys and old-style balls. We want some legitimacy as a vintage ball organization,” Jones said. “Just because we don’t play New York style doesn’t make us less vintage.”

On June 18, Jones’ Newberg team invited community members to the Christoffersen Storm Basin Park in Turlock to play Townball. The stop in Turlock wasn’t by coincidence, though, as one player has deep ties to the city.

Grant More was born in Turlock and has a number of family members residing in the city. At three years old, More and his family moved to Los Angeles. Four years later, he moved again to Oregon, where he was introduced to Townball.

“I always felt a grounded relationship to Turlock,” More said. “It feels special to bring this game I love back to my birthplace, especially at a time when modern baseball — at least in the rest of America — is tending to fall out of interest with Gen Z. In the last 10 years, we've seen Townball bring young and old alike back to the game of baseball through the redemption of this Massachusetts style, but especially the young.”

More’s words were evident during their scrimmage in Turlock, as several local Little Leaguers had the opportunity to join in on the fun.

“First and foremost, we want people to have fun,” Jones said. “At the same time, we want to show people that the history of baseball goes a lot deeper than they may realize. If possible, we’d like to see this game grow bigger than regular New York style baseball.”

More explained that Townball’s return to Turlock is very likely, and if there is enough interest, a travel team like Newberg’s could be in their future. Along with the Newberg team, there are squads in Fresno, Clovis, Berkeley and Hillsdale, Michigan.

For more information on 21st Century Townball, visit or @21ctownball on Instagram and Facebook.