Their season-long wanderings continuing apace, the Scouts were travelers to the antique lands of the 6th Cavalry grounds this Sunday last. There, on the pitch, awaiting them, stood the mighty Mountain City Club. Having suffered a single defeat at the hands of their undefeated Chattanooga cohorts, these fearsome ballists displayed the wrinkled lips and sneers of cold command that captured well the collective will of a superior side at the top of its game. Knowing that they were in no position to rest on the laurels of their unlikely triumph last season, the Scouts approached the contest fully aware that the bounces would have to go their way if they were to turn events to their collective favor.
And in the early frames the Sam Davis nine gave no such indication, taking to the pitch and fielding the onion as if afflicted by buttered fingers. In the aftermath of the colossal wreckage of those early frames, the Scouts found themselves in a developing debacle, on the short end of a 13-2 score. It soon seemed to all in attendance that the dim glow of their earlier triumph had at long last been snuffed out.
Looking upon the work before them, however, the Scouts opted not to despair. Instead, they gathered themselves, checked their doubts, and began the difficult work of setting their course to rights. As the contest entered its middle innings the visitors chipped away at the Mountain City lead, narrowing the deficit incrementally with a tally here, a pair of aces there. Mitts, the principal agent in this effort of recovery, went on a bit of a tear. Striking salvos to the lone and level corners of the Cavalry grounds, he sent the Mountain City fielders to the deep pastures while breezily circling the sacks. Thus the Sam Davis bunch hoisted themselves back into the contest, and by the eighth inning the contest was ominously deadlocked at thirteen aces apiece.
However, having expended their most vital spirits in erasing that early deficit, the Scouts found that they had little left to yield to their favor a decisive result. With the beginning of the ninth frame the Chattanoogans’ dormant willows regained their starch, their batsmen pounding out a series of well-struck onions to place multiple runners at the sacks. On cue, those strikers who followed promptly drove these runners homeward, and when the Scouts finally secured the third out they found themselves once again at deficit, this time by a figure of five aces. And although a timely strike by Corn Bread narrowed the final tally, the Scouts were unable to muster any additional aces in their final innings and so were forced to acknowledge defeat by a final score of 18-15. Knowing that they had put up the good fight against a formidable club, the Sam Davis found occasion to congratulate their victorious Mountain City opponents and all then found respite from the blistering heat in the grounds’ shady borders and in various refreshing elixirs.
In coming decades those who visit those Cavalry grounds under customary circumstances will see the machinations of martial routine—soldiers in drill, squads in formation, officer and soldier working in kind to secure our collective well-being. Those visitors will likely scarce discern the spirited battles that determined ballists had waged on those grounds in times now past. However, like Shelley’s “Ozymandias,” where the traveler to an antique land beholds the wreckage of Egyptian monuments and discerns only the faintest whispers of mighty Pharaohs ruling in glorious, ancient epochs, a perceptive witness to the Cavalry grounds might hear similarly distant echoes of spirited exhortation and hearty “hoorah.” That visitor, attuned to the delicate tenor of those storied environs, might also divine muted murmurs of those long-ago ball matches, where the outcome of a spirited contest hung in the balance, where stout young men competed for the honor of their sides and for the pride of their villages, and where our great new game of base ball was played with the determined resolve of soldiers waging grand battle.
However, such fanciful musings about the future have no place in the here and now. Here in the firm present the Scouts must shake off the sting of defeat, gather themselves for another lengthy perambulation, and prepare themselves to face the battle-tested Emmett Machinists of Knoxville at the grounds of the Hermitage on Sunday, July 24. Fresh off a victorious outing this Sunday last against the noble Farriers of Franklin, this grand side will be braced to compete against the Sam Davis Bunch. And those cranks who might fancy a rousing day of base ball in this grand setting are encouraged to attend this contest and are implored, as always, to bring a chair or blanket for their comfort and victuals and libations for their nourishment.