“Wasn’t that a Sock Dolger!”: The Female Base Ball Club of Nashville (1868)

The earliest account of a club of women base ballists in Tennessee comes from the Nov. 22, 1868 Nashville Republican Banner. I’ve not found another account elsewhere to confirm the story, and given the journalistic standards of the time, I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the second-hand details. But there’s no reason to think the club itself fictional. Excerpts below:

“The fermanine [sic] rage for novelty has broken out in a most virulent form, which threatens serious detriment to many sober-minded heads of families. We have a respectable, first class, Female Base Ball Club, as a standing institution in the City of Rocks? It’s none of your small-girl affairs; but a genuine full-grown institution, whose “first nine,” through natural aptitude, long practice, etc can bat, field, catch on a fly, stop, home run etc., in the most approved manner with such skill and grace as would make a Phoenix and Nashville look sharp to his belt.”

“Our bachelor friend to whom the honor of first discovering the existence and locality of the “F.B.B.C.” resides in a quiet lodging in the suburbs of the city. Near him is situated a large old-fashioned mansion, surrounded by finely shaded grounds, well enclosed by a tall fence. For many evenings during the recent pleasant weather had he noticed the arrival of sundry vehicles, with female occupants at the front door, and for hours thereafter, loud, boisterous shouts, base-ball slang, etc., over in the inclosure. At length his gnawing curiosity could be restrained no longer, and one afternoon when the noise and glee seemed at its highest pitch, he made his way to a garret window overlooking the grounds, when the whole scene burst upon his astonished gaze. There were a dozen, or, perhaps a score of fair ones enjoying a lively, exhilarating game of Base Ball. It appears they were of a club, each being uniformed by a jaunty little cap of red cambric, and wide leathern belt with the cabalistic initials “F.B.B.C.” in gleaning colors… Such expressions as ‘wasn’t that a sock dolger,’ ‘that makes her scratch gravel,’ would follow upon a successful ‘hit.'”

“The third day up he went again, and so on until the last day of the week. This time he called an acquaintance and told him of the marvels he had witnessed. Together the two mounted to the gallery, and took seats near the window. The games began, and such running and and screaming had never before been seen or heard of in that locality. The new spectator, less prudent than his friend, so far forgot himself as to laugh outright, and in a very boisterous manner. The game was up–they had been discovered. The “F.B.B.’s” set up an awful yell, scampered promiscuously to the house, and left the two bachelors inside-splitting fits of laughter. We regret to hear that the intrusion of “those horrid men” has led to the dissolution of the Club.”





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