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“Well played!” cries out one player, like his comrades dressed in a buttoned shirt with a “K” centered upon it.
“One hand dead,” calls Tony Brown.
Wearing a top hat, suit and carrying a cane, Brown stands behind a makeshift backstop at the vintage base ball game played on a grassy field at Roane State Community College.
The players who make up Roane County’s Dry Town Boys and their rivals, the Knoxville Holstons, red and sweaty because of the hot sun in April, don’t seem to mind being in character for their games with the Tennessee Association of Vintage Base Ball.
Teams in the association play using rules, equipment, costumes and culture of 1860s-1880s. The scoreboard at Sunday’s game was a large chalkboard. Cries of “huzzah” were frequently heard.
“It is just neat to see how the game was played back then when it started,” said Chase “Took” Clem.
“I just love to play baseball,” Clem added.
Others on the team have the passion for the game as well. Like Clem, they’ve grabbed on to the fun of the old style, each having nicknames like Clem’s Took.
The Dry Town Boys are named after a former Roane County team.
“That was a team that played back in the 1800s,” said Brown.
He and others assume the team was so named because of the Harriman players and the city’s prohibition origins.
The new Dry Town Boys drew a pretty big crowd to the grassy field for their first home game, and they didn’t disappoint. They handedly defeated Knoxville Holstons.
One out of town couple were traveling through when they saw it and decided to stop and watch.
Hugh Potter had guests from New York State come to Roane County and decided to entertain them at the game.
“They have never seen a vintage game before,” Potter said.
“It is fantastic. We need more stuff like this,” added Jody Tipton, a friend of Clem.
What makes the game unique, in addition to the classic 19th century uniforms, includes the rules of the game and the larger ball and no gloves.
In fact, the men can even catch the ball on one hop for an out, called a hand dead. They also cannot strike out at bat unless swinging, and there isn’t a walk either.
The Dry Town Boys play at home again Sunday, May 18. First Stewarts Creek Scouts play the Knoxville Holstons at Roane State at noon. The Dry Town Boys play the Nashville Maroons at 2.
On June 14 the Phoenix of East Nashville and Knoxville Holstons play at noon followed by the Dry Town Boys facing off against Stewarts Creek Scouts at 2:30.
A complete schedule is at http://tennesseevintagebaseball.com/schedule/