FORT SILL, Okla. -- "The Fort Sill Cannonballs Wallop the Fort Sill Indians." This may have been the headline if you were reading the Caddo or Wichita newspapers back in July 1876. Fort Sill was just a small frontier post in 1869, consisting of a few houses and a couple hundred tents, but for a few months out of the year, the Fort Sill troops played base ball.

The rules, terminology and equipment were not what they are now. Most "ballists" did not wear gloves, because it was considered unmanly, and the umpire was not allowed on the field. He would have to find a spot off to the side to make the calls of the game.

Something very unusual for the time was that Fort Sill had Native American teams. L Troop, 7th US Cavalry was organized at Fort Sill in 1890 and consisted of Apache, Kiowa and Comanche Indians.

Although some were considered prisoners of war, they were all armed, received a salary and wore uniforms as they served with distinction in the U.S. Army. One notable Indian player for the team was Geronimo.

Saturday the National Historic Landmark Museum conducted an exhibition of this 19th century base ball game on the original playing field at Fort Sill. Complete with period costumes and actors, the museum gave visitors a little taste of the life from more than 130 years ago.

The teams consisted of a selection of officers and enlisted personnel from the post and the descendents of Troop L, 7th Cavalry. Descendents of Troop L are tied to famous leaders and warriors such as Santana, Geronimo, Quanah Parker and others.

The day was breezy, but hot and both team captains decided that they would only play 7 innings instead of 9. There was a small disturbance from a few "ruffians" that were from south of the Red River, bothering some of the local women, but the Fort Sill deputy marshals quickly dispatched the bunch and the game began.

The first inning made both teams look like they might not have played since around 1890 with the Indians taking a commanding lead of four runs. The Cannonballs tied it back up though with their own "slug fest" of runs before the inning was over.

Over the next few innings both teams looked as if they may have grasped the concept of the rules and made some tremendous defensive plays.

With the back and forth play between the two teams, they entered the top of the seventh inning tied 8-8. Though only a few disputes occurred throughout the game, the Cannonballs prevailed winning the game by one run. The final score for the game was Fort Sill Cannonballs, 9 and the Fort Sill Indians, 8.

The teams shook hands after the game and Maj. Gen. David Halverson, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, presented both teams with medals for the event.

Since this game may be Halverson's last with the museum, the descendents from Troop L presented him with a plaque showing their appreciation for all of his help and support for the event. The descendents didn't send him off with just a plaque though. Coach Lupe Gooday Sr., a Fort Sill Apache, wanted him to head to his next destination with a warrior's blessing. The descendents sang their prayer and played their music in honor of Halverson, wishing him ease and strength in any assignment he may receive.

Page last updated Thu July 28th, 2011 at 00:00