More on the Cumberlands’ Grounds, and “Base Ball on the Brain”

As promised, here is a more comprehensive reference to the Cumberlands’ new grounds, from the August 25, 1866 Nashville Republican Banner.

“Change of Base. The Cumberland have changed their place of practice to a ground at the terminus of the Street Railroad. The ground, although not so large as the Fort Gillem, may, with a little expense and labor, be made a very good one, and as the great objection of having to walk so far to walk is now done away with, we may expect a full turnout on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons.”

Wednesdays and Saturdays must have been practice days. Fort Gillem was at the present site of Fisk University’s Jubilee Hall, which is about two miles from downtown Nashville, where most people in the city lived and worked. The new grounds were near Chestnut and 4th, which at the time was about the extent of the Nashville city limits. They were slightly closer to downtown Nashville, but the option of the street railroad–passenger cars pulled by horses or mules–made all the difference.

The article continues: “Measures have been taken to consolidate the Cumberland Cricket and Base Ball Clubs, and the members will play cricket and base ball alternately. We trust that this may give Nashville a nine that it will be hard to beat, and an eleven that will sweep things this side of Philadelphia. Success to them.”

I have seen a few references to cricket clubs in early Nashville newspapers, but it doesn’t appear to have been as popular as baseball in these years. The earliest of these, from 1857, references the Hickory Club, which had played a cricket match, and was also to play baseball. So far I’ve not seen evidence that they ever did play a baseball game, but that article is a good topic for a future post.

And finally, speaking of baseball’s popularity, the article concludes: “In connection with this subject we may remark that, just now, the country has base ball on the brain, for never before did we boast of so many clubs; never before, in an entire season, have we had so many match games as we have already had in this; and never were our people in such a healthy state of excitement over healthy out-door sports. Every village of any pretension in the country boasts of one or two clubs, and many of the cities play in a constellation. Notwithstanding the extreme heat which has been the rule in August, match games have been the order of the day, and always exciting attention and being witnessed by large crowds of spectators.”

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