Holstons in History

Holstons in History: 1867 State Champions


Each September, the base ball clubs of the Tennessee Association of Vintage Base Ball gather at Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee, to play for the championship of the state and the right to hold the Sulphur Dell Cup. It’s a Tennessee base ball tradition with roots extending back to at least 1867. In September of that year, the Holston Base Ball Club of Knoxville played for the “championship of the State” in a hotly contested, best-of-three series against the Mountain City Base Ball Club of Chattanooga.

The first mention of the championship series occurs in the September 5, 1867, Knoxville Daily Free Press  and is an account of match one, played on Tuesday, September 3, 1867, in Chattanooga:

B.B.—The great match game at Chattanooga for the championship of the State, between the “Holston” club of this city, and the “Mountain City” club of Chattanooga, came off on Tuesday, and resulted in the defeat of the former by a score of 79 to 50. The Holston boys complain very much of the umpire, and do not hesitate to charge him with partiality in his judgments. They speak highly of the general treatment they received. The second in the match will be played at Knoxville on the 16th inst.:


Holston Base Ball Club


Runs Outs
Williams, 2 b., 8 2
Putnam, 1 b., 7 2
Miner, p., 4 3
G. White, 2 b., 5 2
R. Armstrong, s. s., 5 3
A. White, c. f., 5 5
H. Armstrong, c., 9 1
Homer, l. f., 4 4
Cleage, r. f., 5 4
Total 50 27


Flies caught 2; R. Armstrong, 1, F. Armstrong, 1. Fouls caught 15; F. Armstrong, 4, Williams. 5, A- White, 4, G. White, 1, Cleage, 1. Passed balls, 22. Home Runs, 2: Williams 1, Clenge 1.


Mountain City Base Ball Club


Runs Outs
Wilber, c. f., 13 0
Lowry, p., 9 3
Blakely, 1 b., 11 2
McCraeklin, c., 8 5
Sherman, l. f., 8 4
Johnson, 2 b., 6 2
Marfett, 3 b., 7 6
Brown, s. s., 8 2
Ross, r. f., 8 3
Total 79 27


Flies caught, 5: Johnson, 3, McCracklin, 1, Brown, 1. Fouls caught, 12: McCracklin, 8, Wilber, 4. Passed balls, 10. Home Runs 4: Wilber 2, Blakely 2.


Time, 4 hours.


Umpire, Charles C. Siegfrid.


Scorers, H. L. W. French, Holston; J. J. Lynch, Mountain City.


This is the first game for the championship of the State. The second game to be played in Knoxville.

The Holstons 29-run loss stung for 13 days until match two came off on Monday, September 13, 1867, in Knoxville; the recounting of this match appeared in the September 18, 1867, edition of The Knoxville Whig:

Base Ball.—The lovers of the national game had quite a lively time in our city last week. Some time ago a match game for the championship of the State was agreed upon between the Mountain City Club of Chattanooga, and the Holston Club of Knoxville. The first of three games was played at Chattanooga, in which the Mountain City was victorious. The game here was the second of three, and resulted in favor of the Holston by a score of 52 to 31. The final game will come off at Cleveland or Chattanooga in a short time.


On Friday night a concert was given to the Mountain City boys at the Lamar House, which is spoken of as quite a success. They were escorted to town on their arrival here on Friday morning by the different clubs of this city in full uniform, headed by the Knoxville Brass Band, and were entertained at the Bell House during their sojourn here. On Saturday a match game came off between the Knoxville and City Clubs of this place, in which ­the city club was victorious.

Tied at one match a piece, the Holston Base Ball Club and the Mountain City Base Ball Club played the decisive game at a neutral site in Athens, Tennessee, on Saturday, September 21, 1867. With little fanfare and withholding the score of the final match, The Knoxville Whig made the following announcement on September 25, 1867:

The Holston Base Ball Club Victorious.—The third of the match games between the Mountain City Club of Chattanooga, and the Holston Club of Knoxville, was played at Athens on Saturday last, in which the Holston were the victors, and is now the champion club of the State. Three cheers and a “tiger” for the Holston.

Indeed, three cheers and a tiger! It’s a cheer that resounded in Tennessee in the late-1860s, and if you listen closely, it still echoes each September on the fields of Carnton Plantation, as communities from across the state root on their favorite clubs in the Tennessee Association of Vintage Base Ball’s Sulphur Dell Tournament!

Holstons in History: July 4, 1867

The results of the July 4, 1867, match game between the Holston and Emmett Machinist base ball clubs appear in the July 6, 1867, Knoxville Daily Free Press. Although full rosters are not included, the article does reveal that the Emmett Base Ball Club [alternately referred to as the Machinist Base Ball Club] was comprised of railroad workers. The article also chronicles an injury of note: the aptly-named William Hurley being struck at the pitcher’s point, “full in the face,” by a ball off the bat of the Holston’s Sam Luttrell.

The Afternoon of the Fourth.—After the close of regular exercises on Thursday, the Holston and Emmet Clubs favored the people with an opportunity of witnessing a friendly game of Base Ball between the two clubs on the grounds of the Knoxville club. The game was witnessed by an immense crowd of spectators and was played with much spirit. It was closed at the 5th inning, when the score stood Holston 65, Emmet 12.


The Emmet Club has been organized but a short time and is composed of machinists and operatives in the Railroad shops. They have had as yet but little practice, though they have plenty of muscle and activity, and with a little more training will be able to compete with the champion Holston for the right to hold the bat.


During the game Mr. William Hurley was severely injured by being stricken full in the face with a ball from the bat of Mr. Sam Luttrell. The ball was driven with such force that Hurley, who was at the pitchers post, was knocked down and so injured that he could not continue the game.


Holstons in History: July 2, 1867

On July 2, 1867, the Knoxville Daily Free Press mentions the Holston Base Ball Club in connection with the festivities scheduled to occur in Knoxville on July Fourth. Besides challenging the Machinist Base Ball Club for bragging rights in Knoxville, the “famous” Holston Base Ball Club was also set to announce which of its players’ would challenge a grocer-by-day/Olympian-by-night to a one-mile footrace!

The Fourth.—In addition to the published programme for the [illegible] and more sedate citizens of our town, we learn that other parties will celebrate the day in manner to give


“The mind of desultory man,
Fond of novelty and change,”


the fullest scope to enjoy itself.


It is said that the junior member of a well known and popular grocery [buyer?] of our city will hazard his well earned fame as an Olympian in a race of one mile against thorough-bred and “to the manor born” member of the “first 9” of the famous Holston, whose name is announced as for the [sic] coming when the hour comes.


On the same day, a match game of Base Ball, for the championship of the city will take place between the [M?]achinist club of Knoxville, and the Holston club.


These divertisements [sic] are, of course, not intended to interfere with the published programme in this issue.

The “published programme” for the Fourth includes a procession with the following order: Knoxville Brass Band; “Orator of the day,” Mr. Ford; civic authorities of Knoxville and East Knoxville; “Car with Thirty-seven young ladies representing the State of the Union;” state military; citizens in carriages; and delegations from abroad.

The article also notes that the fireworks purchased from Philadelphia had arrived in town at much expense.

Holstons in History: May 22, 1867

After earning a victory against the Knoxville Base Ball Club on May 11, 1867, the Holston Base Ball Club immediately set their sights on the Mountain City Base Ball Club of Chattanooga. The time, place, and final scores of the “friendly match games” were not reported, just this colorful summary in the May 22, 1867, edition of Brownlow’s Knoxville Whig:

BASE BALL.—The “Mountain City” Base Ball Club, of Chattanooga, visited our city last week and played friendly match games with each of the clubs of this city, of course proving themselves too much for our clubs, having had more experience, and being the champion Club of the State. They also gave musical concerts while here, and were voted “bully boys” by every one. The games were played in the presence of a large number of ladies and gentlemen, and a deep interest was manifested by spectators.

Holstons in History: May 11, 1867

On May 8, 1867, The Knoxville Whig noted that a rematch of the May 4, 1867, base ball game between the Holston and Knoxville clubs was imminent, “but at what particular time, we have not learned.” It occurred one week later on Saturday, May 11, 1867, and resulted in what may be the Holston’s first victory.

The match was documented in The Knoxville Whig on May 15, 1867:

Knox-Whig-1867-05-15-Base Ball

Base Ball.—Another of those exciting match games came off on Saturday, in the presence of a large crowd of ladies and gentlemen. The contestants were the Knoxville and Holston Clubs of this city, in which the Holston Club was victorious.

Holstons in History: May 4, 1867

Holstons-in-HistoryThe earliest reference to the Holston Base Ball Club playing a match in Knoxville occurs in the May 8, 1867,  The Knoxville Whig. The match was played four days earlier on Saturday, May 4, 1867, (most likely on the grounds of the Knoxville Base Ball Club) and resulted in a loss for the Holstons:

Base Ball Match.—An exciting base ball match came off here on last Saturday evening, between the Knoxville and Holston Clubs of this city. A large crowd of gentlemen and ladies were spectators. The game was hotly contested by both clubs, resulting in a victory for the Knoxville Club. We understand the match will be repeated soon, but at what particular time, we have not learned.

Holstons in History: May 1, 1867

To date, the earliest mention of the Holston Base Ball Club occurs in connection with Tennessee’s first State Convention of Base Ball Players held in Chattanooga on Wednesday, May 1, 1867. Knoxville sent the Holston Base Ball Club and the (imaginatively named) Knoxville Base Ball Club; Chattanooga furnished six clubs; and Memphis and Tazewell supplied one club each. The results of the organizational meeting were published in the Knoxville, Chattanooga, Memphis, and Nashville newspapers, the latter of which, the Nashville Union and Dispatch, printed this summation on May 3, 1867:

Base Ball Convention. A State Convention of Base Ball Players met at Chattanooga on the 1st inst. The following clubs were represented :


Enterprise, Memphis.
Mountain City, Chattanooga.
Lookout,                     “
Lightfoot,                   “
Lightbodies,                “
American,                    “
Southwestern,                “
Knoxville, Knoxville.
Holston,          “
Sturm, Tazwell.


The meeting was called to order by G. M. Brown, chairman of the committee.


Mr. Clay C. Runyan, from Sturm Club, of Tazwell, was appointed Recording Secretary pro tem.


It was moved and seconded that a committee on credentials be appointed by the chair. Carried.


Messrs. E. D. Lyons. Mountain Citv, C. C. Siegfried, Lookout, and R. J. Fowler, Lightfoot, were appointed.


It was then moved and seconded that a committee of three be appointed to draft a constitution and by-laws. Carried.


Messrs. C. C. Seigfried, of Lookout, R. L. Woodward, of Holston, and E. D. Lyons, of Mountain City, were appointed, and brought in the rules and regulations adopted by the National Base Ball Association, which were read and adopted by sections, as the rules to govern the Tennessee Base Ball Association, which were then adopted as a whole by the meeting.


It was moved and adopted that the Mountain City Club, of Chattanooga, be considered the champion club.


The meeting then proceeded to the election of officers, resulting as follows: W. J. Ramage, Lookout Club, of Chattanooga, President ; R. L. Woodward, Holston Club, of Knoxville, 1st Vice President ; M. D. Graham, Enterprise Club, of Memphis, 2d Vice President ; Spencer Munson, Knoxville Club, of Knoxville, Recording Secretary ; G. M. Brown, Mountain City Club, of Chattanooga, Corresponding Secretary ; George S. Duncan, Southwestern Club, of Chattanooga, Treasurer.


The following committees were then appointed:


A Committee on Rules and Regulations was appointed by the President, consisting of the following delegates: R. J. Fowler, Lightfoot, chairman ; G. M. Brown, Mountain City ; M. D. Graham, Enterprise ; Spencer Munson, Knoxville ; R. L. Woodward, Holston ; J. Whitney, American ; and L. Murrin, Light bodies.


Committee on Nomination—R. L. Woodward, chairman ; E. H. Brown, Mountain City ; Chatman, Enterprise.


Committee on Judiciary—Clay C. Runyan, Sturm Club, chairman ; Geo. S. Duncan, Enterprise ; R. L. Woodward, Holston; and E. D. Lyons, Mountain City.


Also a Committee on Printing was appointed as follows: C. C Seigfried, Lookout, chairman ; Spencer Munson, Knoxville; R. J. Furlow, Lightfoot; and on motion W. J. Ramage, President elect, was added to the committee.


It was then moved and seconded that the proceeding of this meeting be published in the Knoxville, Chattanooga, Memphis and Nashville papers, also a copy be sent to the New York Clipper for publication, which was carried.


A motion was then made and carried that the first regular annual meeting on the second Wednesday of September, 1867, be held at Memphis.


A motion was then made that a day be selected for a tournament of all the Base Ball Clubs in the State to contest for the championship of the same, which was lost.