Vintage ‘base ball’ revisits the past

Haley GuidryFeature, Northeast Knox

The Knoxville Holstons played a match of vintage base ball (the space between base and ball is intended) against the Lightfoot Club of Chattanooga at Ramsey House on Saturday. This game of vintage base ball is likely very different from the modern baseball games you have seen before. Players dress in period-appropriate uniforms and use an actual Knoxville team name from 1864.

Part of the Tennessee Association of Vintage Base Ball, the Holstons play all of their matches using rules from 1864. Perhaps one of the most shocking aspects of the game to audience members is the fact that no gloves are used, not even by the catcher. Although it appears to be painful at times, the team members are more than happy to play by these rules to help keep this tradition alive.


The balls used in these games are covered in one single piece of leather called a lemon-peel. They are slightly larger than modern baseballs. The score is kept on a large chalkboard on the edge of the field. Another interesting fact is that the umpire, also known as the arbiter, can fine players for ungentlemanly behavior such as cursing or spitting on the field.

The Lightfoots came out ahead in the end, with a final score of 9-3. The Knoxville Holstons are currently ranked fifth in the 2018 season. Their next game will be at Ramsey House on Saturday, Aug. 25, and is free of charge.

The Knoxville Holstons’ team sign along with their vintage baseball bats

Holstons and Lightfoot players switch positions between innings.

Gary “Stove Pipe” Drinnen runs to base.

A Holstons players runs to base after a great hit.

The vintage base ball scoreboard used during the game

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