GOODLETTSVILLE – HISTORIC MANSKER’S STATION – Despite the call for rain all
weekend the Highland Rim Distillers were able to get a dry game in against the visiting Mount City Club of Chattanooga. With temperatures in the low 80s and under partly cloudy skies a crowd of about 75 rabid vintage base ball fans were able to take in the Sunday afternoon game.
The agreed upon Arbiter for the day was famous baseball historian Skip Nipper. Skip was also the guest of honor and after the team introductions he threw out the first pitch. To complete the pre game festivities the visitors won the bat toss and elected to bat second.
The first 2 Distiller batters were retired and then Nips came to the dish and sent a ball high into the right field tree. The ball rolled to the fence and it was ruled a ground rule double. Shooter hit a grounder which gave the 2nd baseman some trouble. The throw to first was bad and Nips came around to score from second putting the home team up 1-0. That ended the scoring in the top half of the first.
The visitors took their turn at the line. The usually solid Distillers defense showed signs of weakness. A bad throw, a missed ball in the air and then on the bound; after the dust had settled 3 Mountain City men had crossed the plate. After one inning of play, Mountain City led 3-1.
Neither team mounted much of an attack over the next 2 innings. Both teams made plays that stood out on defense. In the bottom of the 2nd with a runner on and one hand dead, a Mountain City batter hit a deep fly into right center field. Nips ran over getting a hand on the ball, he was able to secure it on the bound for the out. Nips fired the ball in to 2nd base where the runner who had initially retreated was tagged out trying to advance. Not to be outdone, Mountain City turned a twin killing on the Distillers in the top of the 3rd.
The Distiller bats went silent and the deficit grew to 4. Going into the top of the 7th the score stood at 5-1 Mountain City. Here the Distillers started a comeback . Old Hoss, Piccadilly Willy and Big Red all hit rollers just out of the reach of the Mountain City defenders. The Distillers bench came to life and the familiar sound of cow bells filled the park. After a couple of force outs the inning ended with just 2 Distillers stepping on the plate. Mountain City had dodged a bullet and clung onto a 5-3 lead.
In the bottom of the 7th Mountain City scored a run to push the lead back to 3. Despite the minor setback the Distillers came out strong in the 8th. Nips led off with another moon shot that landed on the hill and rolled to the fence for a ground rule double. Shooter hit another double brining Nips in to score.
Hamspoon launched a ball to the edge of the hill. The right fielded made a one handed attempt at the ball and lost it. Hamspoon raced around to 3rd with speed previously unseen in these parts. Cracker Jack tried a swinging bunt. The Mountain City catch dove for the ball just missing. Hamspoon with some more brilliant running was able to score. The game was tied at 6. With no outs it appeared that the Distillers might be on their way to another come from behind victory. The Conjuror singled to right.
With men on 1st and 2nd Hotspur hit a shot to center. The Mountain City midfielder caught the line drive in the air robbing Hotspur of a sure go ahead double. The runners had not tagged but luckily the throw back to the infield was bad. With one hand dead the next 2 batters failed to push the go ahead run across the plate. The leading run was left standing on 3rd base.
The Distillers held Mountain City silent in the bottom of the 8th but failed to get a man on base in the top of the 9th. In the bottom of the 9th needing just one run to win the game the visitors came to the line. With a man on the next batter crushed a shot over the trees in left field. Some good defense held the runners at 2nd and 3rd. With no hands dead it appeared the Distillers were about to suffer their first loss. The Distiller defense played in to prevent the run from scoring. The defense paid off and the 2nd hand was recorded with a force out at the plate by Buster. The next batter nearly ended the game when he ripped a foul ball down the first base line. Luckily the brave camera man was not in the line of fire this time. On the next swing the batter hit an equally hard shot down the 3rd base line. The ball landed fair and nearly hit the base of a big oak tree out in left field. The runner at 3rd jogged home and put a nail in the distiller’s hopes of an undefeated season. Down in Miami they popped the champagne.
Notes of the game… The visitors from Chattanooga outplayed the locals. They mixed in 4 different pitchers and every man contributed in the field and at the line. For the locals, on defense Buster made the play of the day. A hard line drive was sent at him just below his waist, he slid down to his knees at caught the liner without a bobble or a scream. On offense The Conjuror had 3 hits including a double. Hampsoon, Nips, Shooter and Piccadilly Willy all had 2 hits on the day.
The Distillers have only a short time to recover from the loss. Their next opponent is the Oak Hill Travelers at Noon this coming Sunday June 7th. The game will be played at the Sam Davis home in Smyrna.
The Distillers would like to thank the Jesse Horn who despite taking a vicious line drive off the cheek stayed out and captured the entire game. Here is a link to his pictures from the game.