By Ted Pelton
Verily, a losing base ball team, down on its luck, is like a sad church congregation, praying to the Lord for some sustenance to appease their woes. Oh when our prayers for a winning season be answered? For the Cumberland Club of Nashville, even solo wins have come infrequently as miracles; indeed, in the offseason following their sole ascent to glory last season, besting the Distillers in the final game of 2020, the plague season, the Distillers themselves were removed from the league, as if the cosmic judge of all existence Himself wished to efface all evidence of the Cumberlanders having strode in victory even once.
But 2021 is a fresh campaign, and even if the Distillers as a club have left our green orb to drink their spirits in the sky, they have left some representatives of that former team with the Cumberland club, strengthening their one-time rivals. Two of such in the Cumberlander line-up on the grounds of The Hermitage on May 16 for their contest against the Franklin Farriers were Cornstalk, batting clean-up, and Fixer, who hit sixth as well as taking turns spinning spheroids from the pitcher’s line. Both of these additions had stalwart performances for the rivermen in teal on this Sunday, the lanky Cornstalk reaching on two safeties and the crafty Fixer nailing down 3 for 4 and bringing home two ribeye steaks. This was not enough, however, to stave off defeat for the men and women who toil on Andrew Jackson’s pasture, who as a group were trampled by the visiting horsemen Farriers, 15-9.
Nevertheless, there were moments of elation for the Cumberland Club, who though they played without their star, the red-bearded mountainman Ozark, saw the return of an old crowd-pleasing favorite, Spoons. Having stayed indoors during last year’s plague working out new rhythms on his eponymous tableware instrument, Spoons rapped out a steady beat of base knocks on this bright afternoon, going 3 for 4 and crossing the plate for the Cumberlanders first tally, in inning 4. Indeed, for a moment the contest looked like one in which the Cumberland might swell to bog down the horsemen in muck, for when Speck crossed soon behind the Spooner, Jackson’s warriors closed the gap to 4-2, and when Fixer and Books journeyed home in the next inning, the score stood 5-4. Teammates sang loud and raised arms to the sky with entreaties that this day might yield a jubilant result and the Blues might flow mightily as the river which named them, dunking the hopes of the visitors from Williamson County.
Sadly, this was as close as the Cumberlanders’ fervent prayers would come to be being answered on this May afternoon, as the Farriers put away the tongs and took out the whip, leaving four new lines on the scoreboard in the fifth and three more in the sixth, opening a 12-4 advantage that would not be overmatched this day.
Even so, some rays of heavenly light shone in the remaining frames for the Nashvillians. Patrolling the green expanse of wrongside pasture, Burnside careened left and right to steal safeties away from Farrier bats throughout the contest and into the lategoing, keeping the foe within reach. Sharkbait continued as one of the Cumberlanders most reliable bats, with two knocks in three efforts from the dish. Corndog, like Spoons returning to action after missing most of 2020, showed extra-base power with his two smashes. On the latter of these, the Professor, who likewise reached base twice safely during the contest, stood on the first sack as Corndog launched a prodigious blast out toward the oaks in left-centerfield. Wakened from his philosophical revery, Professor took off as if late to pick up his paycheck from the bursar and having to arrive before the chapel bell tolled thrice, scoring all the way from first. Crossing the plate, lightheaded from having run so far with great pace and exertion, the old scholar fancied for a moment that he had scored a run of great consequence in the contest. Alas, this was only because he was now lying on his back and examining the scoreboard upside down.
The Cumberland Club of Nashville again takes to the field Sunday at Bicentennial Capitol Mall in Nashville, against the Phoenix of East Nashville.