The First Baseball Match Ever Played in Tennessee

The first match game of baseball played in Tennessee took place May 12, 1866. This match, between the Cumberland and Rock City Clubs of Nashville, had been originally scheduled forĀ  April 21 (or maybe April 28), 1866, but for some reason was postponed for several weeks. People had of course played baseball in Tennessee before then, but not in such an organized fashion. On this day the Cumberland defeated the Rock City 66-15.

From the May 14 edition of the Nashville Press and Times:


“Match Base Ball Game.–Below is the result of the game played on Satur[sic] afternoon, between the Cumberland and the Rock City Clubs:

[box score]

This was the first of a home and home, and was played on the grounds of the Cumberland, in the presence of quite a large concourse of spectators, considering it was the first game of the kind played in Nashville. The return game will be played next Saturday, at the same place, when, the probabilities are the Rock City will give their opponents a much closer game.”

The Rock City’s scorekeeper for this match, Capt. Edward Metcalf, was city editor for the Press and Times, and if he didn’t write the recap at least had a hand in its publication.



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The First “Called Balls” in Nashville, Oct. 1866

“Called balls” were introduced (at the umpire’s discretion) into the National Association rule book for the 1863 season*, but this new rule did not apparently disseminate at the same pace throughout the nation. Below, the October 7, 1866 Nashville Republican Banner records the moment the local base ball community adopted the practice.


“Base Ball.–The match between the Eureka and Rock City Clubs yesterday, on the grounds near Fort Gillem, resulted as follows, the game being played with great spirit on both sides and lasting two hours and twenty-five minutes:

[box score}

The game was a well conducted one, and until the fourth inning the Eureka were in the lead, owing to excellent fieldings.

Crockett took Pitcher’s position in place of Flagg, filling it with credit.

A new feature was introduced by Mr. Sullivan, Umpire, in calling balls, with have heretofore passed unnoticed.

A pretty fly-catch, straight from the bat, was made by Castine.

It is thought that another game will soon be played between these clubs.”

*Called strikes had been around since 1858.

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Nashvilles vs. Blue Stockings, August 1870

From the Nashville Union and American, August 13, 1870:

“In a match game of base ball between the Nashville and Blue Stocking Base Ball Clubs of Nashville, the Nashville won by a score of 43 to 19. Those who deserve mention for good fielding were Kelly, Moses, Smith, Rielly, and Tyrells. On the Blue Stockings, C. Haile, M. Reddick, Flatter and F. Reddick.”


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Morristown and Rogersville Clubs–Rivals!

From the June 26, 1868 Nashville Republican Banner:

“Morristown and Rogerville are rivals in base ball.”

That’s the extent of this report. Morristown and Rogersville are towns in East Tennessee, about 25 miles apart.


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A Busy Day for Base Ball Matches, 1868

From the April 30, 1868 issue of the Nashville Union and Dispatch:

“Base Ball.– Several Delegations of juveniles waited upon our Local yesterday with the following reports of match games played during the day: Southern 50, to Lone Star 47; Trix 14, to Independent 11; Emerson 19 to Starlight 6; Texas 53, to Washington 19. Where’s the Phoenix?”

Despite the exotic names for some of these teams (“Lone Star,” “Texas”), there’s no reason to think these aren’t local clubs. Some or all of these matches may have been between juvenile clubs.


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The Broadway Lightning Defeat the Trix, May 1868

From the May 10, 1868 issue of the Nashville Union and Dispatch:

“Base Ball.– A match game was played between the Broadway Lightning and Trix, the former scoring 28 and the latter 9.”

If you’ll recall, in late May of that year the “Trix of North Nashville” and the “Trix of South Nashville” played each other for the rights to use that name. But it’s not clear to which club this account refers. This was probably a juvenile match.


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Lone Star 61, Arlington 28 — April 1868

From the Nashville Union and Dispatch, April 17, 1868:

“Edgefield and South Nashville.– In a match game of base ball yesterday, the Lone Star Club of Edgefield scored 61 to 28 by the Arlington, of South Nashville.”


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