Brett “Burnside” Young Photo Credit: Remembering Tuscumbia
In a seemingly unending string of pre-season practices, tournaments, and exhibition games, the Cumberland Club of Nashville is set to take on the Stones River Scouts at Oaklands Mansion in Murfreesboro, Tennessee… yet again.
At 2:00 pm, on Sunday, May 2nd 2021, the fourth season of Cumberlanders Vintage Base Ball will begin!
As of this writing, it has been 600 days since the Cumberland Club of Nashville has played in a game where it counts.
On September 7th, 2019, cranks throughout Middle Tennessee witnessed yet another drubbing of Andrew Jackson’s favorite ballclub. After nine innings of pure torture under the hot, dry sun, all while wearing black denim unifoms, the Cumberlanders succumbed to the Stones River Scouts by the score of 19 – 2.
While the final result was not unusual for a club who limped towards the end of season tournament with a 1 – 10 record on the season. What was unusual was that such a beating came at the hands of a familiar and closely matched foe.
When the Cumberlanders and Scouts faced each other less than a month prior, the final tally was 10 – 3 in favor of the Scouts. Before that, when these two clubs faced each other at Ravenswood in 2018, the final tally was 8 – 7 in favor of the men on the Stones River. And even before that, when these two clubs faced each other in the tournament for the Sulphur Dell Cup, the final tally was 10 – 7 in favor of the Scouts.
How could this have happened? When two evenly matched teams on paper face each other on the diamond, you would expect a fun and exciting game. But that wasn’t the case for the 2019 Cumberlanders. So, what caused it?
Was it a symptom of a long lost identity? Before former captain Pepper left his men to pursue dreams in Hollywood, star players JiP and RIP transferred to clubs closer to home. Catfish and his basketlike hands retired in order to enjoy time with his family. Or was it the rumblings of the impending doom that the world would face as time drew closer to 2020. Maybe the Cumberlanders tapped into some evil force a year earlier than what was required? Your guess is as good as mine, but the fact remains that the Titans in Teal had morphed into something of a Black Shadow.
Loss, after loss, after loss was the fate that the Hermitage Heros faced on a monthly basis; save for the one lone win at the home grounds. And no, these weren’t close, choke-it-away losses either. Nearly every one was a pounding. The Black Beauties were walloped by Lightfoot, Maroon, Phoenix, Quickstep, and Farrier alike. Why would a tournament game against a friendly rival be any different?
Despite a lack of success on the field, 2019 did see a few favorable moments for the Cumberlanders. Two relatives through marriage joined the ballclub, one with wisdom and the other with strength. Caboose, having found salvation after leaving the throes of East Nashville, brought along Corndog to balance out what old age had taken from him.
The club also recruited an excellent first sacker in Fish, who came in a package deal with one of the best outfielders in the team’s short history, Sharkbait. All the while subtly filling the void of aquatic wildlife nicknames for a team who takes inspiration from the life giving river.
And despite what the world faced in 2020, the club began to show signs of stability. With most of the 2019 roster returning to a shorted 2020 campaign, the Cumberlanders slugged their way to a win on the last day of the season while on the road in Knoxville.
2021 brings new hopes and new faces. Additions of many Highland Rim Distillers bolster an already fierce Cumberland lineup. Look for Biscuits, Fixer, and the father/son duo of Speck and Cornstalk to contribute in significant ways.
Watch out for Critter to strike well while also bringing a high energy hoedown feeling to the already musically inclined ballclub. And watch the professional baseball duo of Montana and Pickles from AAA Nashville to make significant contributions to our slower paced, more family friendly version of the game.
And finally, if God is willing, may the freshly dubbed “Turquoise Girls & Boys” score tallies in such a fashion that Percy Priest breaks open wide to carry the Scouts away on the Stones like a piece of driftwood.