The earliest hint of baseball in Nashville that I know of is from the November 28, 1857 issue of the Nashville Daily News, referring to the “Hickory Club,” which was intended to be a social and athletic club for the men of Nashville. This is the only reference I know of to that club, but it’s a good one! It contains a box score of a cricket match, as well as descriptions of their uniforms. I see no reason why these uniforms would not also have been worn for baseball, but again, I have no evidence that they ever played such a game. I also have no information about where this cricket game was played, or who took part.
“The Hickory Club.–This is the name of an Association recently organized in this city, having for its object the physical and mental improvement of its members. The Club is composed principally of young men, though there are also a considerable number of those of riper years attached to it. It is proposed to adopt the practice of manly, athletic, outdoor games, such as Cricket, Base-ball, etc.; and to have for indoor occupation and improvement, a Debating Society, Reading-room, and Library; in addition to which, it is hoped a Gymnasium will shortly be constructed–affording the members whose daytime is fully occupied every opportunity of strengthening and developing both body and mind.
The Club has already had several outdoor meetings; and on Thanksgiving-day afforded our citizens an opportunity of witnessing the interesting game of Cricket, performed in costume–white flannel shirts, dark pants, broad leather belt; blue jockey caps for one side, and red caps for their opponents. The Club presented a very handsome appearance; and considering the short practice the members have had, the game was admirably played–quite a large concourse of spectators being present on the grounds, among whom were a number of ladies. The following is a showing of the score: [Blue defeated Red, 213-124]
We are much pleased to see the formation of such a club among our young men, and wish it all success. They need something of an improving and useful character to employ their leisure hours; and we hope to see the number of this association greatly increased, and to hear of the formation of others of a similar character, in order that the spirit of emulation may be awakened. Far better the hours thus spent than in idleness–or worse than idleness.”
Unfortunately, these hopes were premature. The following July, the Nashville Union and American would complain bitterly that “lazy” Nashville youths had no interest in such activities. (I will post the full excerpt of that one later.)