This past weekend a number of base ball enthusiasts gathered at the Three Rivers Rambler depot on the west side of town near the college to board its special express. At the same time, scores of wagons passed through the countryside along the Thorngrove Pike. The cavalcade of horsepower converged at Colonel Ramsey’s splendid garden shortly before the noon hour. As rooters both young and old found shade under the trees or pitched their tents, the Knoxville Holstons and Emmett Machinists loosened up by tossing and striking the onion. A buzz resonated in the air and ran around the Colonel’s plantation, accompanied by raised eyebrows as Grizzly, the match’s arbiter, called the proceedings to order and announced the recent history between the clubs. The match was the fourth meeting between these two clubs. The Holstons held a 3-0 advantage over their local adversaries in the series; however, the most recent game played two weeks prior had gone down to the wire, decided by a single ace.
The latest installment in the Battle for Knoxville commenced with the bat toss which was won by the Machinists, who deferred to the Holstons. The throng had hardly settled back for an afternoon of thrilling base ball when Samson, wielding his club’s leading ace-making willow, stepped to this dish. As one last Spring breeze blew down the East Tennessee valley and through the garden, the Holston muckle’s timber sliced through the atmosphere, violently striking the onion. Samson and his bewitching locks must have cast a spell on the Machinist scout for he appeared frozen in left field as the ball roared over his head and landed dangerously close to foul territory. As the Machinist raced to the brush to retrieve the blazing vegetable, Augie and Little Skeeter rounded the sacks and called for Samson to seek shade rather than remain at third. Before the ball reentered the infield, Samson rang the bell for his second 4-sacker in as many matches. The Holstons plated two additional aces in the fourth thanks to Augie’s decisive hot ball to center in which Doc rounded the sacks from first, followed by Little Skeeter’s sacrifice slow bounder to first that provided Augie safe passage home. After three and half frames, the Holstons had deposited five aces into their account whereas the Machinist maintained a zero balance as the Holstons’ scouts took handsomely to their rivals’ balls.
But the wheels came off the Holstons’ wagon in the bottom of the fourth as they wilted in the garden, failing to tag their way out of the inning by obtaining the third hand dead before the Machinists made them pay. This would be the Holstons’ undoing as their adversary would net half of their aces in this manner. Moreover, the Holston willows cooled off and they struggled to get through their roster. The Colonel proved lightning quick on the sacks while the mighty willows brandished by Rip, Grasshopper, and Mongo dealt a decisive blow over the course of a few innings.
As the eighth window opened, the score stood Machinists 10, Holstons 5. Having come from behind two weeks ago, the Holstons licked their chops as they began to work through the roster with Little Skeeter and Samson making their second orbits around the sacks to close the gap to three. Unfortunately, the Holstons soon found themselves in the middle of the roster and these willows proved resistant to well-placed line balls. In the ninth, Sour Mash snuck across the dish to get his club to within two as Freight Train and Rip frolicked in the field with one another after the latter tagged the former out. Down to their last hand dead, Butter Bean sent a hot bounder directly toward Biscuit who received it on the bound to close the match.
Grizzly called the ballists together and announced the score 10-8 in favor of the Machinists who claimed their first victory over the Holstons. Laurels went to Biscuit for his stout defense at the pitcher’s point and the Colonel for stirring his stumps around the sacks. Rip, Grasshopper, and Mongo were acknowledged for their ace-making timber. On the Holstons’ side, Samson claimed honors for striking his second 4-sacker in as many matches and being responsible for four Holston aces.
As the summer arrives, the Holston club will take a much-needed rest. While some plan to travel during the national holiday and others pray for amnesia after a difficult first half of the season, one notorious Holston seemed eager to get back to his farm and lounge in his cow trough. In the meantime, rooters of the national game in the East Tennessee valley will have to wait patiently until July 9 until base ball is played once again in Colonel Ramsey’s garden.