Approaching their season-ending sojourn to Knoxville as hardened warriors of the road, the Scouts returned homeward this previous Saturday decidedly road-weary. Late and soon, the demands of season-long travel eventually proved too much for the Sam Davis nine. Squaring off against a stout Holston bunch just hitting their stride, the Scouts found their willows rendered punchless and their powers laid waste in the stifling Appalachian heat.
Their cranks, having shown the foresight in their journey to bring chairs and blankets for their comfort and victuals and libations for their nourishment, were nonetheless denied the “sordid boon” of electric play shown at times by the locals in contests past. Instead, they were treated to a rather torpid display of ballists “up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,” a side “out of tune” and off of its best game.
Indeed, little transpired throughout the contest to move the visiting Scouts or their cranks to rousing celebration on this steamy day at Ramsey’s “pleasant lea.” Oh, there were occasional and fleeting moments, like the pair of aces scored by Tick Tock and the Scotsman in the first frame, and the usual acrobatic efforts by that pair, respectively, in the center pasture and about the initial sack. Dutch provided the Scouts’ cranks with a brief thrill with a fine strike in the sixth frame, and Tick Tock did the same two innings later. But on this spiritless day there were otherwise no rousing Protean moments or blasts from Triton’s “wreathed horn.” Instead, despite some generally solid play afield the Scouts fell short of the higher standards set in earlier matches, and the Sam Davis bunch was left with little to do but to admit defeat to what was, on this day, a superior side. And so were they to congratulate the Holston nine, who prevailed by a 9-4 margin.
And before we abandon the lofty Wordsworthian idioms used in this account, let us hope for “glimpses” to make the Scouts and their supporters “less forlorn.” In fact, even though some spirituous jolts would have served the Sam Davis Bunch well, the Scouts found that their listless play did not serve to damage their standings within the larger Association’s rankings. Even so, they will be entering the Sulphur Dell Cup tournament facing the formidable Phoenix side. Having tasted both the sweet nectar of victory and the bitter ash of defeat to these East Nashvillians, the Scouts—to a man–are hoping for more “snap” and more “zing,” particularly at the dish, come tournament time.
That time will come at high noon on the 10th of September at Carton Plantation when the Sam Davis bunch takes the field in the preliminary rounds with their season in the balance. Having been primed by previous accounts about how to best prepare themselves for what will be a fine day of base ball, any cranks who wish to attend this match are likely familiar with the drill by now. Hope to see you there!
Twas a soggy day at Carnton, downpours threatn’ing to forestall
where Maroon and Scout had gathered for some spirited bae ball.
But finally the skies did open, and the ballists took the field,
trudging through the dampen’d grass as the rains at last did yield.
And with timely ace and well-made play, the Scouts took early lead
the Maroons kept matters close, however, as their innings did proceed.
After eight full frames, the match was close: the tally stood 6-4,
with each Scout afield determined to prevent any further score.
For through those eight frames their slim lead held—one thoroughly earned,
with timely ace and well-made play, fortunes to their favor turned.
With Mitts’ mighty blast and the Scotsman’s play, and Tick-Tock’s acrobatic feats,
and with Dutch securing his onions afield, the cranks rose from their seats!
But in later frames, through grit and guile, the Maroons set to even the score,
with timely strike and stellar play, they’d other plans in store.
So the mood was tense in that ninth frame as the Maroons took to the dish.
Their willows silenced in recent frames, the Scouts had but one wish:
With three more outs they would preserve their slim and hard-earned lead,
securing a grand triumph, a stellar win indeed!
Alas! For the Nashville nine, despite their grit, their moment was not to be.
For the Chief–hail Chief!–stood tall, with feats improbable to see!
For without that Keystone sacker’s doughty deeds of derring-do,
the Nashville nine might just have pushed a few more aces through.
Ranging left, and ranging right, snatching onions speeding past,
he made one final play—scarce to believe!—and retired the side at last!
And so was victory earned by the Sam Davis nine, to the wonderment of all.
But none turned sour or took offense when the Chief fielded another game ball.
Their fates thus then secure for yet another day, the Scouts have hearty shout.
The Maroons, though bested on this day, gave opposition stout.
And with these tidings thus recorded, we look forward to the week ahead—
to a lengthy eastern sojourn out to the Ramsey House Homestead.
Where the Scouts do battle this weekend next with the Knoxville Holsten nine,
a stout side now riding high in the wake of recent triumphs fine.
Those cranks who go to Ramsey house should chair or blanket bring,
As well as drink and victual—now that’s the perfect thing!
Their ranks depleted, the Scouts took to the road again this Sunday last to do battle with another stout side residing across the Cumberland ridge, the Lookout Club of Chattanooga, at the famed Cavalry Grounds. Having suffered a single defeat this season, the Lookouts had earned their lofty stature within the league as a formidable club who wielded fearsome willows and showed grand play afield. So the short-handed Sam Davis Bunch approached the contest in a grim frame of mind, one akin to that of the outnumbered English soldiers on the brink of combat at the famed battle of Agincourt in 1415. Drawing inspiration from those “happy few,” however, the Scouts recorded a victory that was every bit as unlikely and almost as impressive, marking this day, the 6th of August, as cause for their own version of the Crispian’s Day feast.
Winning the toss, the Scouts took to the pitch and promptly yielded three tallies to their hosts. However, across the rest of their innings the Lookout Club’s most formidable salvos were gathered by well-placed Scouts in the deep pastures. Also benefiting from some fine play about the sacks, the Sam Davis nine were, for the most part, able to prevent the locals from registering additional aces. And for their own part, the Scouts answered the early rally with a pair of aces in the first frame and with single tallies across the contest’s middle stages. A timely trio of aces in the 8th frame helped to establish the final margin of victory—9 for the Scouts, and 5 for the Lookouts.
In the glow of victory the Scouts took to the shady peripheries of the Cavalry Grounds to raise “flowing cups” and to recount deeds “freshly remember’d.” Joined by their gracious hosts, all found occasion to show their scars of combat–the sore limbs, aching hands, and empurpled digits that distinguish the battle-tested ballist. Here the Scouts were heard to remark amongst themselves that the successful result was achieved by virtue of efforts by the entire side. Even so, all were likewise in agreement that the Chief had earned the game ball for the victors by virtue of his timely gathering of well-struck onions about the keystone sack. Meanwhile, the Lightfoot, gentlemanly in defeat, joined other assembled denizens of the Cavalry grounds to offer congratulations and to enjoy the day’s second match.
Thus will the Scouts “remember with advantages what feats they did this day,” a day when they took to the field, wielded their willows, and gathered their onions admirably in order to emerge triumphant against such formidable opposition. Here it is worthwhile to mention their names and credit their contributions on this grand day for the Sons of Sam Davis: the Elder, Tick-Tock, and Long Shanks, whose stellar play in the outer pastures kept the opposition in check; Jessie and Corn Bread, whose fine hurling kept the Lookout batsmen at bay; Bunyan and Skeeter, whose stout duty behind the dish held the tenor in this march to victory; and the Scotsman, Bumpy, Brass, and especially the Chief, whose grand efforts in the infield enabled the Scouts to avoid the costly big inning.
Realists to the man, however, the Scouts will do well not to rest on their laurels. For in two weeks hence the side engages once again with their old rivals, the Nashville Maroons. That challenge, always daunting, will be made even more so because it will be played on the unfamiliar grounds of the Rippavilla plantation. So even as the campaign reaches its final weeks the Scouts’ meanderings continue, and they will need once again to be in their finest form to take on this imposing side. Those who have a desire to attend this event should expect a most spirited contest and are urged, as always, to bring a chair or a blanket for their own comfort and victuals and libations for their nourishment.
THE HERMITAGE, TN – As this Tennessee Summer presses forth into its hottest days, perhaps so too do the Scouts of Stewart’s Creek. For sure, in the Scouts’ latest match, the cranks watched beneath the large shady trees of Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage to watch the base ball club from Smyrna heat up right alongside the sweltering sun.
Having temporarily moved their home grounds from the Sam Davis Home to the Hermitage due to the unfortunate happenings earlier in the summer, the Scouts made their way along the lake to take on the visiting Machinists club from East Tennessee. Having bested the Machinists in years past, the Scouts themselves were coming off a difficult loss in Chattanooga and were not to take the next game lightly based on past performance.
Admittedly, the early morning heat was a common conversation piece among ballists on both sides of the grounds as they warmed long before the first pitch – with many of the players sweating during introductions as though they had already played a full nine innings. By the time the Scouts had been declared the home team with a Dutch victory in the bat toss, however, both teams were focused solely on plating aces across the dish – and the heat was just another of the field’s many oddities.
With the Scouts taking to the field first as the home team, the Machinists came to the dish ready and volleyed a number of line drives in between those ballists at the sacks and in the garden – and with a couple well-placed wormburners, the Machinists came out to a quick 2-0 lead before the Scouts could charge the third hand dead. The Scouts, however, haven’t tallied the second most runs in the league this season by giving up after early deficits.
Mayhaps the club felt the need to earn the sweat the cranks could see dripping from the brims of their bowlers in their first go at the plate, because the Lads of Summer came up to the dish with a determination rivaling that of Old Hickory himself. In fact, after a lead-off 4-bagger by Tick Tock, the Scotsman followed suit with a triple and was batted in on a single by Long Shanks. The hits kept coming as the Scouts made it all the way down the order and tallied a total of 5 across the dish by the time the Machinists could get out of the inning.
Having plated a number of aces in the first, the Scouts followed it up by playing stellar defense and continuing to whack the onion all over the Hermitage grounds, including long shots by both Bumpy and Mitts, who had a number of very important hits down the stretch of the game. In fact, if it could be said of any striker in the match, Mitts proved himself a clutch member of the squad in the later innings after the game had leveled out and become very close between two formidable opponents.
In the end, though, it was a combination of astounding defense and timely sequencing that led the Scouts to a victory over the visiting Machinists from East Tennessee. Had it not been for a few specific plays, including Iron Belly’s juggling catch behind the dish and Chief’s agile movement around the second sack, perhaps the Machinists tally a few more aces in the later innings and the match turns out differently. As it stands, though, the Scouts repeatedly conquered the heat and the moment with base knocks by every member of the squad – including late inning insurance from Cornbread and Skeeter Wells.
Ultimately, the Scouts pulled out a victory by the score of 15 – 12 and enjoyed the rest of the day under a rather large pine tree overlooking the grounds in which they had conquered.
The Scouts play next on the 6 of August in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia as they take on the elite Chattanooga Lightfoot club. The match is sure to be a doozy as the Scouts have suffered at the hands of defeat and enjoyed the fruits of total elation at the 6th Cavalry Grounds. You won’t want to miss how the club handles their chances this time!
25 July, 2016 – The Rutherford Herald
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.
Fate is inscrutable. So, to a man, mused the Scouts, facing now the prospect of a long summer wander far afield from the friendly grounds of the Sam Davis Home. Their home grounds now unplayable, the local nine began their prolonged perambulations by making another ascent to the airy climes of the Highland Rim. So must those in the face of misfortune accept their fates, gather their resolve, and forge ahead.
Sharing the fated wariness of the famed “Wanderer” of Anglo-Saxon verse, the visitors likewise came to terms with their wandering destiny. Pursuing glories afield despite their itinerant condition, the Scouts faced off against a Distiller’s bunch eager for revenge. In the wake of their dispiriting defeat to the rival Phoenix Club two weeks prior, the Scouts took to the pitch with their hearts still heavy and their battle-glories tarnished. And as the game commenced in that sloped pasture they approached the dish uneasily, likewise questioning the vicissitudes of fate within those steamy and forbidding terrains.
In kind, however, Scouts promptly answered those fates in their first innings with a robust series of rousing strikes afield. Sending the onion about the grounds in disparate directions, the Sam Davis batsmen amassed runners at the sacks, all ready to ascend the pathway up toward the keystone sack and then downward around toward home dish. With a trio of well-timed blows sent afield in the wake of these favorable developments, the visitors soon found themselves having taken the initial frame by a margin of five tallies. Beholden like all ballists to the twin furies of chance and fortune, the Scouts again found that grand work with their willows was efficacious in keeping those furies at bay.
While the Distillers waged a spirted battle in the middle frames to reduce that early advantage, their efforts eventually fell short as the Scouts matched their well-struck onions for some well-gathered worm-burners afield. Particular praise is due to the trio of the Elder, the Slow Poke, and Mitts, each of whom contributed grand fieldwork leading to the decisive result. As noted in earlier dispatches, the denizens of the Highland Rim tend to prompt unease among Godlier cranks in light of their nebulous profession; but their own cranks support them to the end, and on this day observers were left impressed once again with their continuing resolve and their gentlemanly approach to the game. A pair of timely aces in the contest’s seventh frame provided sufficient cushion to yield this final margin: Scouts 8, Distillers 2.
Lofty praise must also be directed, once again, toward the Scotsman. True to the ancient battle-deeds of his Pictish forefathers, this fine ballist earned kudos for his fine play at the first sack which nicely complemented his stout showing at the dish. On this day Uncle Jessie, the wizened and battle-tested leader of the Sam Davis side, found occasion to pay rare tribute to this newest member of the Scouts, awarding the first-sacker with an unprecedented second game ball. And with the contest thus concluded, both Scout and Distiller adjourned to the sidelines to celebrate the contest’s ardor with their cranks and teammates in spirited post-match conviviality.
The first stop on their season-long ramble is now complete, and in this contest the Scouts were thankful to find momentary glory in the golden light of victory. Emerging from that glow, however, they face another prolonged perambulation, first a rigorous ascent across the craggy ridgetops of the Cumberlands and then downward toward Chattanooga Cavalry grounds. Here they are slated to face the famed and formidable Mountain City Club on Saturday July the 9th.
Their cranks might remember the how the Scouts, in a shining moment of good fortune, snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in last season’s hotly contested match. As that ancient Saxon verse proclaims, however, fortune soon deserts the warrior who takes his battle-treasure for granted. Since that steamy August day the Mountain City side has grown more formidable, and they will surely be ready to test the mettle of the Sam Davis bunch. Those interested in joining the side for this most arduous sojourn are, as always, advised to bring a chair or a blanket for their own comfort and victuals and libations for their nourishment.
We sing today of their willows and the Scouts, wishing that this song had a more celebratory tenor. Venturing northward this Sunday last from the wounded Sam Davis Home to the State House Grounds, the Scouts took to the pitch against their familiar rivals, the noble Phoenix club of East Nashville, who joined the Scouts in remembering the tragic events that loomed in the backdrop of the contest. Indeed, all stood reminded that base ball was but a diversion on this soggy, steamy day. The day’s contest served both as a focus of larger celebration and an occasion to pay respects in light of the past week’s misfortunes. The pervasive dampness captured well the pensive the moods of the gathered ballists, but each was determined to give his best effort despite the melancholy circumstances of the day.
On this occasion the anniversary of statehood was also to be marked for the cranks there gathered, fulfillment of a vision akin to that expressed by the Aeneid of the grand bard Virgil. In their uncertain condition, the Sam Davis bunch, like the Trojan exiles cast adrift into the Mediterranean, likewise faced the anxious prospect of an uncertain pathway forward. But even as Aeneas, the storied hero of Rome’s ascendency, labored with the vaguest premonition of a glorious world that he would never witness, so were the assembled throng of Tennessee’s base ball cranks thus gathered to celebrate the fruits of such pioneering labors, similarly undertaken.
As the first innings commenced the moods of the Scouts were to dampen further as the re-fortified Phoenix Club, remembering their defeat at the Sam Davis grounds a month prior, set the tone in their first innings with three timely tallies. However, in the “bello passus” (war and suffering) of the match, both sides found respite in the fog of competition. As testimony to the tonic powers of our grand ball game the Scouts were able to record timely aces in reply, and so the game stood deadlocked in its middle innings the sullen circumstances of the day were held at bay.
Eventually, though, the machinations of Fate would prove to serve in the favor of the Phoenix, who, capitalizing on some tepid work at the dish and some ill-fated miscalculations by the Scouts on the base paths, eventually took command with timely aces in the middle frames. Then, fending off some late innings charges from their opponents, the East Nashville nine rose from their ashen den to reign triumphant, the final tally thus recorded: East Nashville 8, Stewart’s Creek 4.
Thus was the Phoenix club able to fashion victory first out of despair, and then confusion and conflict, aligning themselves favorably with the fates as they grasped the sweet fruit of triumph. On this day, with the unhappy events of the week past weighing on their minds and dampening their spirits, the Scouts were willing to accept defeat to a superior side in a contest where both were to be commended for keeping more important concerns—including the friends and family of a fallen warrior, and the safety of those in the proximity of their home grounds–foremost in their thoughts. Nevertheless, on this day the game’s curative qualities on display; and many a crank in attendance expressed hope that base ball will come to assume an ever greater role in our healing Nation’s cultural fabric.
On a more hopeful note: tempus fugit! Time will inexorably move forward and the Scouts will take the field again under happier—if no less forbidding–circumstances. In two weeks’ time the Sam Davis nine returns to the airy summits of the Highland Rim, once again to take on the rival Distillers. Their cranks might recall how the Scouts encountered unexpected success afield and in their innings in a recent visit to those tilted pastures. And so should the denizens of Stewart’s Creek anticipate a spirited contest against a motley bunch that will surely have revenge on their minds as they seek to return the favor. Any who are interested in attending this match would do well to bring a chair or a blanket for their own comfort and victuals and libations for their nourishment. Hope to see you there!
Unlike the waves making their way toward the pebbl’d shore, the Scouts did not hasten to ascend to the steamy summits of the Highland Rim this Sunday last. Cognizant of their poor showings against the League Champion Distillers over recently past seasons, the Scouts instead reached the Mansker’s outpost with game trepidation, both anticipating the stern test before them and anxious about the quirky character of the sloped confines they were there to play upon.
Like the spirituous fruits of their labor that lead unwary partakers into regrettable realms of error, the Distillers have likewise exerted diverting effect on recent opponents, plying opposing ballists with occasion to commit awkward miscues, to chase down well-struck salvos, to hurl wayward onions, and generally to lament the machinations of the Base Ball fates. In this way they have achieved noteworthy success against many an Association club. Such were the results last season in their lone contest with the Scouts, and such was the pattern to many of their stirring conquests on their way to last season’s league championship.
However, even as the Distillers drew first blood, the Scouts soon embarked upon a series of “sequent toils,” many of their strikers enduring the laborious struggle upward toward the second sack before rounding into form around third with another well-struck onion before hastening back downward toward the dish, thus winded, to record another tally. As the game’s nativity moved crawled towards its maturity, “crooked ‘clipses” continued to darken the visages and spirts of the Distillers as the Scouts matched well-timed aces with grand plays afield. Mammoth blasts from the willows of Elder, the Scotsman, and Bumpy all served well to pad the Scouts’ growing lead in those middle frames; and in the contest’s later stages the stout defensive efforts of Uncle Jessie and that same Scotsman kept the visitors’ lead intact.
It was soon revealed to the Mansker’s faithful that while time and tide had yielded to the Distillers many successes in previous contests, time on this day was now serving to confound their hopes—time, as aided by the Scouts’ efforts on their sacks, in their pastures, and at the dish. Thus did time “doth transflix the flourish” set upon the successes of the Mansker’s bunch in weeks past, and so had it “delved parallels” in their furrowing brows as they confronted the contest’s looming result.
Some of the Godlier cranks in attendance, wary of the effects of the intoxicating drop, might have regarded the Distillers’ chosen trade suspiciously. However, those witnessing the match were all quick to recognize how the denizens of the Highland Rim remained gentlemanly sportsmen to the bitter end of a contest where the fates were clearly not smiling upon them, one resulting in this unexpected final tally: Scouts 18, Distillers 4.
Despite the many successes they enjoyed on this day, the Scouts collectively agreed that laudatory mention in particular must be directed to “The Iron Belly.” A Man of God and a purveyor of his own “holy spirits” to boot, the Scouts’ backstop also proved to be a veritable force of nature on the field and at the dish, garnering a pair of ticked “fouls” for timely outs and striking a pair of colossal missiles to the deep reaches of the Mansker’s grounds, blasts leading to felicitous aces. Thus were the Scouts moved to “praise his worth,” celebrating The Belly’s grand day by awarding him the Game Ball. Wherewith being thus crowned, he called for all on both sides to “feed on the rarities” of the day’s events in a post-contest atmosphere of conviviality and well-wishing.
For their part, the Scouts remain aware of this salient fact: only a foolish ballist, assuming that his side’s celebratory verses will stand perpetually, inquires too closely into—or places too much faith in—the often “cruel hands” of the Base Ball Gods. Although dispatching the Highland Rim bunch on this day, the Scouts recognize that the moment will pass and that battle-ready opponents await. The Sam Davis side next takes the pitch at the grounds of the Statehouse Mall on June the 5th to do battle once again with that game Phoenix Club of East Nashville; and again on June 19th, the Sam Davis nine return to these same airy pastures of Mansker’s to take on these Distillers, surely revenge-minded, once again. Cranks interested in attending either of these contests are advised to bring a chair or a blanket for their own comfort and victuals and libations for their nourishment. Hope to see you there!
Half a league onward rode the Sam Davis bunch into their home grounds, once more into the breach toward their first home league match of the 2016 campaign. Having in the previous match endured cannon and blast, having committed blunder and miscue, the dismayed Scouts sought to regain their bearings and hoped to recover the fine form to which they are accustomed. However, for their home opener on this day, the Scouts again faced an ominous panorama: the Phoenix Club of East Nashville to the left of them; the Quicksteps Club of Spring Hill to the right of them; and a full slate of spirited league play in front of them. As the first of the day’s two contests approached the East Nashville bunch was primed and on their marks, ready to reclaim their former glories on the Scouts’ home turf.
Alas, the Scouts soon found that it was theirs not to question the stern test before them or to lament their lots. Instead, it was theirs but to do what all sound clubs do—that is, to strike well and gather their onions to their advantage, to put their blunders behind them, and to hold the opposition on the pitch at bay. And even as the Phoenix bunch claimed the bat toss and took to the field for their first innings, the Scouts’ batsmen approached the line and soon began to give rest to the lingering frustrations which had surfaced in the previous match, three weeks prior.
Soon the Phoenix club was in the midst of a thunderous assault: salvos to the left and salvos to the right, all signifying that the Scouts willows were alive and well, storming at their opponents “with shot and shell”; and so in their early innings the Sam Davis bunch claimed advantage. However, they also remembered the gameness of the Phoenix club, having tasted defeat at the hands of the East Nashville nine before and having only bested them by the thinnest of margins last season. And despite their early disadvantage the Phoenix proved to be, like their fiery namesake of myth and lore, ever at the ready to rise from the ashes. Although their visitors struck gamely to keep the contest close the Scouts never relinquished their lead, preventing that Phoenix rising by quelling several rallies with some fine play afield, and by tallying timely aces to keep their lead intact. The visitors mounted a comeback in the game’s middle innings, but the Scouts’ batsmen answered in later frames to assure that they would hold matters in their advantage. On this point the Scotsman, the Scouts’ newest member, deserves laudatory mention for his fine performance at the dish and for his fine efforts in manning the initial sack, and his teammates were soon to celebrate his grand day by awarding him the game ball. And so the locals held things in their favor to the contest’s end, the final tally standing thus: Scouts 24, Phoenix 13.
In the second of the day’s matches the Sam Davis nine, buoyed by victory, were further helped by an old friend and stoutly towering presence who returned for the day to help the cause as the locals battled the upset-minded visitors from Spring Hill. Like Ajax, the great Greek hero of ancient warfare wielding his signature spear, so did the mighty Tiny, brandishing his carotene willow to wonderment of all, strike a salvo forward to the remote corners of the grounds where pasture met forest. Thus he sent a pair of perplexed visitors to “step quickly” into uncertain terrain in search of the wayward onion. Likewise did this battle-tested alum of the locals assert his presence about the first sack, gathering many a well-hurled onion from his mates to secure matters on the defensive side. Even as the Scouts added tallies and recorded their outs the cranks there assembled at the Sam Davis home were heard to remark that the Quicksteps side features many formidable ballists. Murmurs from the Scouts’ bench pointed to the expectation of stout competition from this Quickstep bunch in coming seasons. But on this day “[t]hey that had fought so well/ Came through the jaws of Death” to emerge victorious. At conclusion the second contest’s ledger read: Scouts 22, Quicksteps 9.
With this “wild charge” the Sam Davis club regained a bit of the sheen of former glories, leaving their cranks and supporters to “[h]onour the charge they made.” And so did the assembled crowd, ballists and cranks alike, raise more than one celebratory toast in commemoration of the day’s events.
Amidst the celebrations the returning champion Tiny posed with Pig Pen, a well-chosen representative of the Spring Hill nine who fully embodies her side’s grit and determination. This meeting showed to all assembled the very contrast that occurs when solstice meets equinox, when occident meets orient, and when day meets night. A daguerreotypist was on hand to record this meeting of team representatives, which is included here for the benefit of readers.
A meeting of true sportspersons: Tiny and Pig Pen
However, the Scouts are in no position to rest on their laurels for too long, as they journey to Mansker’s Station this very next Sunday to face the Distillers of the Highland Rim. Supporters of the Sam Davis club know the intensity of this rivalry, and are also familiar with the slanted “home field advantage” that the Mansker’s bunch enjoys on their grounds. The bat will be tossed promptly at noon, and all who are interested in attending are advised to bring a chair or a blanket for their own comfort and victuals and libations for their nourishment. Hope to see you there!
As the rose-red fingers of dawn gave way to reveal the tawny rays and verdant hues of early spring, the Sam Davis nine ventured toward Brentwood this Sunday last. Knowing the formidability of the side they were facing off against, the Scouts approached the contest with the Brentwood Travellers anticipating a stern test. Having emerged triumphant in last year’s Sulphur Dell Cup Tourney, the Travellers, newly relocated to the Ravenswood grounds, stood ready to defend their new home turf before the motley gathering of cranks there assembled. And those cranks, anticipating a heated battle, were instead treated to a contest that, at times, resembled something like a war.
Like two well-conditioned pugilists engaging in spirited fisticuffs, the combatants matched each other in the early innings. Those familiar with the sweet science know that within the prize ring, skillful practitioners are prone to exchange blow for blow, feint for feint, parry for parry, each looking for that elusive opportunity to land his foe on the seat of his trousers. In a similarly contested fashion the ballists from each side matched each other into the middle frames, strike for strike, tally for tally, well-hurled toss for well-gathered onion.
For their part, the Scouts continued as in previous weeks, wielding their willows with grandness and striking many a mighty blow. And for their part, the Sulphur Dell Cup Champions answered on cue, sending more than one exploratory salvo into the farthest reaches of their new home grounds. The withering heat gradually sapped the gusto of ballist and crank alike, but nary a mollycoddle was to be found among the ranks of either side. As the contest unfolded into its later innings many in attendance began to wonder what the fates would reveal.
Perhaps a telling analogy for this contest might be found in the works of Homer, the grand blind bard. For on this day those assembled saw unfolding a ballists’ reenacting of the Iliad. Here the Travellers assume the role of Achillies, the Argive champion of the armies of Menelaus and Agamemnon who, lately summoned to battle, turns the tide toward the favor of the Greek besiegers. The Scouts, protectors of former glories now fading, assume the role of Hector in their efforts to forestall the inevitable champion’s march. Such were the epic dimensions witnessed on this afternoon on the Ravenswood pitch.
And just as the fates in Homer’s verse revealed themselves in the form of Achilles, so did they come to figure in this spirited see-saw match between Scout and Traveller. Returning triumphant to the battle field begirt in the well-fashioned armor of Haphaestios, the mighty Achilles brandishes his magic shield against the reluctant Hector. And just as Troy was content to celebrate its precarious peace with the Greeks seemingly departed, so were the Scouts seen protecting a precarious lead in the game’s late stages. And so were the Sam Davis bunch fated confront their own Trojan horse in the 7th frame as the Travellers, like Greek warriors emerging from their equine den to begin the sack of Troy, raced around the base paths, tallying nine. Dispirited by a series of defensive miscues and mighty blasts that led to this unexpected turn, the Scouts mustered only a paltry pair of aces in the remaining frames and so were soon to admit defeat to a superior side. And so the hosts laid waste to the aspirations of their upset-minded visitors, and when the carnage was set to ledger the final result stood thus: Travellers 29, Scouts 24.
We are happy to report that with the proceedings decided, the din of battle receded into distant echo, and the climate of competitiveness gave way to an atmosphere of congratulation and conviviality. Both teams were quick to recognize the grandness of the day’s ball match, and both were quick to compliment their cohorts on the opposite side. Both teams were equally relieved to abandon the pitch to nurse their spirits and lick their wounds, and many an exhausted ballist was soon thereafter seen enjoying a healing elixir. With their next matches scheduled for mid-May, both clubs will have chances to heal and return to the pitch at full strength.
For the Scouts, that return will take place on May 15th at their grounds, the Sam Davis Home. After such an exhausting foray into the heart of Brentwood, that return will be welcome. However, the Phoenix Club of East Nashville, formidable opponents to the Scouts in years past, will be making the trip down to Smyrna with conquest on their minds. The match begins at noon, and will followed by a bonus match against the Quickstep Club of Spring Hill at 2:30. As always, cranks and their families are urged to bring a chair or a blanket for their own comfort and libations and victuals for their nourishment. Hope to see you there!