A curiosity puzzled the Cumberland ballists prior to their recent match against the Machinists of Knoxville. They stood round the infield preliminary to the contest at Bi-centennial Park wondering, What did this number represent? What bi-centennial? The present year of our style of ball being 1864, what had occurred two hundreds before, or on two hundred occasions, that had led to the naming of this handsome, commemorative park, sponsored by largesse of the citizenry?
The puzzlement of the gentlemen assembled was short-lived as the base-ball contest commenced. And what a contest it would turn out to be, especially more than two hours later, as the last inning of the game dawned. For at this point, after eight full innings of competition, following base-knocks, rallies, falters, and recoveries on both sides, the score stood even, at 15 aces for each of the clubs.
The Machinists had the advantage, waiting to bat in the latter half of the frame. They reserved the final word of the batsman, to offer the final score to no reply. But the Cumberlanders have seen many valiant efforts this season sink in the depths of the final inning, and on this afternoon were determined to keep their victory-craft afloat. Each of their nine batsmen strode grim-visaged to the plate, determined to strike decisively.
And strike they did! Sugar, the newly-minted third-sacker, was first to the striker’s box and – knock! – punched a safety to the out-field. Next was Books, in whose care are volumes telling of many such heroic innings in the lore of the game. Knock! – thundered the bookman’s lumber. Then it was Maestro, composed as he tapped the dish with his sporting baton and awaited the hurler’s offering. Knock – a third straight hit. Rip, Ozark, and Pepper all followed with tallying strikes, and the Cumberland hit factory had engineered three crossings. In the field, one could see the Machinists’ spirits rusting in this final on-slaught. And so it would prove, as the visitors from Knoxville went quietly in the last of the frame and the Cumberlanders prevailed, 18-15.
What manufacture of aces had been seen on this day! What an affluence of base-knocks! In all, the Cumberlanders would hit more than 30 safeties on this day, and every man of the nine would bat in at least one of his fellows. Ozark would score four times from the initiating line-up position, Jip would strike perfectly five times in as many attempts, and every batsman would reach safely on the day at least twice.
The Cumberlanders again entertain visitors this week at the Bi-centennial Park. Maybe the term refers to the two hundreds of safeties the team can eventually expect to strike there, at their current pace! As the Machinists can aver, the Cumberlanders are a mighty dynamo for producing hits on these public lands.