Old Newspapers are Unreliable

Newspapers are the only available primary sources about 1860s Tennessee baseball. But even so, we shouldn’t forget how unreliable they can be. For instance, the November 14, 1868 issue of the Nashville Union and American reports that:

“a match game of base ball was played between the ‘Young Southern’ and the ‘Trix’ yesterday evening, and the following is the way the score stood: For the Young Southern, 50, and for the Trix, 14. The Young Southern is the most successful little club in the city. It has never once been beaten.”


Sounds like a good team, right? Except that one month earlier, on October 24, the same newspaper reported that “the Trix and Young Southerns played a match of Base Ball yesterday evening. Trix 19, Young Southerns 15.”


So not only had the Young Southern Club previously been beaten, it had been beaten by the very same club just weeks earlier! Or, maybe not. But regardless of which of these reports is correct, this contradiction is a good reminder of the need for skepticism when citing these sources.

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