We Defy Competition

Match Report: Highland Rim distills the Holstons, 6-3

A match game of base ball was played Saturday between the Highland Rim Distillers and the Holston Club of this city. The Middle Tennessee ballists were looking forward to a third win in the same number of matches against the Holstons on their home grounds at Colonel Ramsey’s splendid ball field a few miles east of Knoxville. The Colonel and his Cousin were on hand to welcome the ballists and scores of of rooters of the national game to his plantation. Overcast skies at high noon when the match commenced gave way to a beautiful East Tennessee spring day by the midpoint in the match.

Keen observers noted that the Holstons roster appeared depleted. Several among the throng were heard inquiring as to the whereabouts of Butter Bean, the home club’s beloved former captain, who was nowhere to be seen. Other missing ballists included co-captain Cannonball, Gasser, and Bugle Boy. An additional loss occurred shortly after the match began when Stove Pipe suffered a wound on the field of battle after gobbling Nips’ huckleberry.

The Holstons jumped out into the lead after Augie made his base and Lefty followed with a corker that the Distillers had some trouble handling which permitted the former Holston to tally the first ace. Doc set the tone at the pitcher’s point in the first two innings as his battery of onions confused the Distillers who failed to get past first sack. However, the Holstons’ wagon wheels came off in the third as Cornstalk of the Highland Rim led them with a shooter off his timber. Cornstalk and Piccadilly Willy tallied two aces in the third, followed by Dapper in the fourth, and two more by Cracker Jack and Cornstalk in the fifth. After five innings, the Distillers led the Holstons 5 to 1. Beginning in the sixth, the Holstons’ stout defense returned and with the exception of Cactus stirring his stumps around the sacks to tally the Distillers’ sixth ace in as many innings, the Holstons’ scouts and basetenders kept them off the scoreboard. Molasses and Sour Mash won laurels in the field for the Holstons as they took handsomely to the Distillers bloopers and daisy cutters. The Holstons managed to tally two additional aces thanks to Augie and Freight Train’s ginger on the sacks in the sixth and ninth innings respectively; however, the home team’s lack of hot balls in this season’s first two matches is further proof that the Holstons’ timber has yet to awaken from a long winter’s slumber.

The game closed near 2 p.m. The score stood as follows: Distillers 6, Holstons 3. Each club formed in line and the result was announced by “Waffle House,” the match’s arbiter who presented the game ball to Old Hoss, the captain of the Highland Rim Club. The winning ballists then saluted the Holstons for a well-played match.

A couple Distillers deserve special mention for their pluck and artistry at the dish. Crackerjack and Cactus treated East Tennessee’s rooters of the national game with a plethora of sockdolagers. Gingerbread also won laurels for his ginger behind the dish as he fielded a few Holston tip outs and a wicked long ball that drove in two aces.

Despite the Holstons shortcomings at the dish, Lefty exhibited his well-known muckle power which enabled Augie to unleash his blazing speed as he made two complete orbits around the sacks. Several Holstons gobbled the Distillers’ huckleberries thus showing the sand in the garden that the club is well-known for as last season’s league-leading stoutest defense, which the Holstons’ captain acknowledged as a promising sign for the club going forward.

Game stats

Reckless BBC of Maryville Score card

Recently our friend and fan, Mark Aubrey, shared a score card of the Reckless BBC of Maryville circa 1876.  This may change the way the Holstons keep score.

If you are a fan of base ball history, we recommend you give Mark a follow at @mdaubrey on twitter or following his blog, Old Knoxville Base Ball.


Match Report: Mountain City Climbs Over the Holstons, 11-3

Report copied from Wings, Mountain City Captain and 3rd sacker: It was a beautiful day for the start of the base ball season. The sun was high and bright with clear skies, giving promise of warm days ahead. There was still a bite in the cool spring air with a game time temperature of 52 degrees.

Mountain City Base Ball Club won the bat toss and took their defensive positions. The big willows of the Holstons showed up in the first inning and tallied two aces. Mountain City then took to the dish and somehow managed to score 5 aces in the bottom of the first. Both teams showed some rust and first match jitters.

The remainder of the match was a defensive battle. For the Holstons, Samson covered center and left field with ease and Cannonball was a blockade at the 3rd sack. Sour Mash and Samson hit the onion well and put runners in scoring position several times. They had one ace in the 2nd inning, however the Holstons would cease to tally another ace the rest of the match.

For Mountain City, Taco in left field, Sweet Feet in center, and Mighty Bandit at short stop continuously made great defensive plays, including a double play by Bandit and Cowbell. At the dish, Taco, Bandit, Pepper, and Sweet Feet all had a great showing. Mountain City was able to slip in a few more aces for a final tally of 11-3 in favor of the Mountain City club. Taco was awarded the game ball.

Game Stats

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.

Match Report: Holstons best Mountain City, 18-6, in scorcher for 4th straight victory


A match game of base ball pitting the Mountain City Club of Chattanooga and the Holston Club of this city was played Saturday south of Chattanooga in the vicinity of the battlefield at Chickamauga Creek. Owing to the number of events in Knoxville this past weekend, the editor of this journal opted not to dispatch a reporter to cover the match. Rather it was decided to rely on the telegraph for the details of the match that our readers have come to expect.

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Match Report: Holstons 7th inning nails the Maroons coffin, 12-6


A match game of base ball was played Saturday between the Nashville Maroons and the Holston Club of this city.  The Middle Tennessee ballists were looking forward to their first visit to Colonel Ramsey’s splendid ball field and to redeem themselves after suffering a defeat against the Holstons last summer in the shadow of Fort Sanders.  Although the Colonel was away on business, his plantation’s caretakers welcomed the ballists to clear skies and one of the warmest days of the season.  The sultry weather favored the home club, who have yet to lose a match when the mercury soars above the upper 80s.

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Match Report: In “The Battle for Knoxville,” the Holstons best the Machinists, 19-0


The great game of base ball—the Battle for Knoxville—was played Saturday upon the grounds of Colonel Francis A. Ramsey’s plantation, east of town, near the fork of the Holston and French Broad Rivers. The contestants were the Holston and Emmett Machinist Clubs of this city, in which the Holston Club was victorious. The match was witnessed by about one hundred and seventy-five spectators, many of whom arrived by train.

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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.