19th Century

Nashville in the Central League: A Timeline

Sporting Life, May 17, 1897

Nashville Seraphs manager George Stallings left after the 1895 season to join Detroit in the Western League, and when the owners of the team felt the Southern League was no longer a viable option for the 1896 season, there was no professional baseball once again in Tennessee’s capital city.

Billy Work came on the scene to organize the Central League, and Nashville became a member with Work as manager. It would not complete the season, but it was the first time Nashville would be the southernmost city in any baseball league.

1896

December 5 – A called Southern League meeting in Birmingham, Alabama does not materialize.

December 6 – A called SL meeting in Montgomery, Alabama also fails.

The Southern League is in turmoil, as Memphis has no park in which to play and Atlanta has been accepted into the Southeastern League.  Columbus and Birmingham are committed to playing in the Southern League.

December 15 – Disappointed with the “unwieldiness” of the Southern League organizers, W. L. “Billy” Work reports that he has become anxious to place a Nashville team in either the Central or Interstate League.  George Stallings and Charley Frank assist Work in his proposed league.  The Interstate League is proposed by Work to have Nashville, Knoxville, Jackson, Memphis, Chattanooga and Little Rock as members.

December 20 – In a letter from Charley Frank to George Stallings, Little Rock, Memphis, Clarksville, Evansville, Paducah, Cairo, Henderson, Terre Haute, Fort Wayne, Springfield (Illinois) and Nashville are selected as potential cities in a Central League.  Controlling player salary limits are a driving force for organizing a new league but travel expenses are the main reason, due to the proximity of all cities which had been proposed as members.

The list of cities is whittled down in correspondence from Work to Stallings:  Evansville, Terre Haute, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville, Cairo, and Springfield  A meeting is proposed on January 2nd in Evansville.

1897

January 18 – An organization meeting of the Central League takes place at the Acme Hotel in Evansville and five cities have representation:  Terre Haute, Nashville, Cairo, and Evansville;   representatives from Washington agree to membership, but it is determined to withhold membership until representatives from Memphis and Little Rock, who were expected at the meeting but failed to attend, could be contacted.

It is agreed that the player salary limit should be fixed at $900, with the season to begin on Saturday, May 1st and end in September.  A $300 fee is assessed to clubs for membership through the end of the season with ½ at the next league meeting and the remainder due one month later.

Gabe Simons of Evansville is elected President-Secretary-Treasurer of the Central League.  Billy Work of Nashville is named Vice-President.

February 3 – President Simons announces that Lexington and Paducah are prepared and anxious to join the Central League.  Little Rock is reported to have been ‘OK” and Memphis is still chasing entry into the Southern League.  Simons says “the old Southern League is a thing of the past”.

The ballpark at Nashville is noted as having to have either a great many repairs made or a new one built.

February 7 – Representatives from Nashville, Cairo, Washington, Terre Haute, Evansville, and Paducah attended a secret meeting in Evansville.  It is determined that Memphis, lacking a proper ballpark, would not apply for membership and probably would not be able to field a club in the Southern League, either.  This prompts Little Rock to drop out.

February 12 – Representatives from Nashville, Terre Haute, Washington, Evansville, Paducah, and Cairo meet in Evansville to finalize plans for the Central League.  Uniforms are selected as follows: Evansville, cadet blue, white trimmings; Terre Haute, gray and blue; Paducah, old gold and maroon; Washington, brown and red; Cairo, gray and black; and Nashville, blue and maroon. Nashville will host Evansville on opening day April 28th to open the season.

February 20 – The Southeastern League meets in Charleston in an attempt to combine the league with the proposed Southern League.  The proposal is made my “Mr. Powers” of New Orleans, president of the Southern League.  The consolidation is rejected by representatives at the meeting from cities Columbus, Charleston, Augusta, Macon, and Atlanta.  A representative from Savannah fails to arrive in time to attend the meeting.

Powers’ recommendation includes New Orleans, Mobile, Montgomery, Birmingham, Atlanta, Augusta, Savannah, and Charleston as member cities and the name of the league to be the Southeastern League.

February 27 – Washington, Indiana is admitted to the Central League over Terre Haute’s opposition, claiming that Washington is too small a city to support a team.

The Central League adopts the Reach baseball.

Terre Haute schedules exhibition games with Ft. Wayne, Detroit, and Milwaukee.

March 8 – Work, Nashville manager, stated that he had forwarded the Nashville club’s $150 installment to the Central league, as has every member club.  The remaining $150 for full membership is due on April 1st.

The signing by Nashville of well-known ex-Southern League pitcher Theodore Conover, who began his professional career with Ted Sullivan in Atlanta in 1894, is announced.  After Atlanta, Conover had also played with Bowling Green and in the Virginia and Texas Leagues.

March 30 – President Simons completes his list of umpires for the 1897 season:  chief of umpires Joe Schniep of Evansville, Ned Zinkens of Washington, and Billy Nelson of Terre Haute.

April 17 – Left-handed pitcher Willis and outfielder Veatch of Evansville arrive in Nashville.  Signed for the 1897 Central League season are catchers Belt and Kling, pitchers Bratt, Conover, McCoy, Drummy and Willis, first baseman Work, second baseman Lynch, third baseman Blakely, short stop Griffin, and outfielders Dilliard, Lamber, Veatch, and Cleve.  Manager Work announces he will not carry more than twelve players on his roster.

Work reports that the water has receded from Athletic Park and he has assigned two carpenter crews to repair flood damage to the grandstands and fence.

April 28 – The Central league season begins, with Evansville winning over Nashville 3-2 at Athletic Park.

April 29 – Nashville 2, Evansville 1

April 30 – Nashville 5, Evansville 1

May 1 – Evansville 7, Nashville 2

May 2 – Sunday, no baseball allowed in Nashville

May 3 – Evansville 3, Nashville 1

May 4 – Nashville 5, Evansville 3

May 5 – Nashville 9, Cairo 3

May 6 – Nashville 12, Cairo 0

May 7 – Nashville 7, Cairo 3

May 8 – Paducah 7, Nashville 1

May 9 – League standings:

Team               Won     Lost      Pct.

Paducah             6          2        .750

Evansville           7          3        .700

Nashville            5          5        .500

Washington        2          3        .400

Cairo                  2          6        .250

Terre Haute        1          4        .200

May 10 – Nashville 5, Paducah 4

May 11 – Cairo 5, Nashville 4

May 12 – Cairo 13, Nashville 10

May 13 – Nashville 6, Cairo 0

May 15 – Terre Haute 10, Nashville 3

May 16 – Nashville 4, Terre Haute 3

League standings:

Team               Won     Lost      Pct.

Evansville         11         5        .688

Nashville            8          8        .500

Washington        6          6        .500

Paducah             6          8        .429

Terre Haute        5          7        .417

Cairo                  6          9        .400

May 17 – Nashville 11, Terre Haute 2

May 18 – Nashville 9, Evansville 6

May 19 – Evansville 15, Nashville 11

May 20 – Evansville 14, Nashville 5

May 21 – Nashville 14, Washington 13

May 22 – Nashville 7, Washington 6

May 23 – Nashville 10, Washington 9

League standings:

Team               Won     Lost      Pct.

Evansville         15         8        .652

Nashville          13       10       .565

Washington      10         9        .526

Paducah             8        10       .444

Terre Haute        9        13       .409

Cairo                  7        13       .350

.May 25 – Nashville 15, Paducah 10

May 26 – Nashville 7, Paducah 6

May 27 – Nashville 12, Paducah 5

May 28 – Washington 8, Nashville 3

May 29 – Central League umpire Ned Zinkens is fired; no reason is given.  Nashville signs second baseman Kyle, taking the place of suspended infield Lynch. 

League standings:

Team               Won     Lost      Pct.

Washington      14         9        .609

Evansville         16       11       .593

Nashville          16       11       .593

Terre Haute      10       13       .435

Cairo                10       13       .435

Paducah             9        16       .360

May 31 – Nashville 15, Washington 9

June 1 – Nashville 12, Terre Haute 6

Washington (pop. 18,000) is averaging 700 at each home game, including Sunday games.  Paducah (pop. 20,000) is averaging 800 patrons, while Cairo, Terre Haute, and Evansville are drawing even more.  Nashville is the only city not allowing Sunday games, but the team is considered one of the fastest of the Central League teams.

June 2 – Nashville 7, Terre Haute 5

June 3 – Terre Haute 15, Nashville 2

Nashville drops out of the Central League; the team travels to Cairo in hopes that the team would be transferred to Decatur, IL.

June 5 – Nashville 8, Cairo 2

June 6 – Cairo 15, Nashville 1

League standings:

Team               Won     Lost      Pct.

Nashville          20       13       .606

Evansville         19       15       .559

Washington      14       14       .500

Cairo                14       15       .483

Terre Haute      13       16       .448

Paducah            13       18       .419

The Central League is led in hitting by Nashville first baseman Pat Dillard (Dilliard?) – no average given.  “Dr. Brott”, of the Nashvilles, is the leading pitcher of the CL.  No statistics are given, but he is also considered a good batsman and the fastest man in the league.  Two players formerly with Nashville’s CL club arrive in Detroit to play for Detroit: infielder Pat Dillard and outfielder George Cleve.

June 7 – Nashville 7, Cairo 6

June 8 – Paducah 11, Nashville 3

June 9 – Paducah 9, Nashville 5

June 10 – Paducah 12, Nashville 7

June 12 – Evansville 9, Nashville 8

June 13 – The Central League transfers the Nashville club to Henderson, Indiana.  Henderson 5, Evansville 4.

League standings:

Team               Won     Lost      Pct.

Evansville         23       17       .574

Henderson        22       17       .561

Washington      18       16       .529

Paducah           17       20       .459

Terre Haute      16       19       .457

Cairo                 15       20       .429

June 18 – Wilkes-Barre signs Dr. Brott, late of the Nashville club.

June 25 – Grand Rapids signs outfielder Hunt, late of Nashville

June 27 – League standings:

Team               Won     Lost      Pct.

Evansville         30       21       .588

Henderson        27       23       .540

Washington      22       22       .500

Terre Haute      22       24       .478

Paducah           22       26       .458

Cairo                 20       25       .444

June 28 – Central League directors accept the resignation of Central League president Gabe Simons.  Simons desires to take over management of the Evansville club and no longer wishes to shoulder the responsibility and annoyances of the League office.  Mr. F. C. Winter of Washington is named president.

July 4 – League standings:

Team               Won     Lost      Pct.

Evansville         34       23       .569

Henderson        30       25       .545

Washington      25       25       .500

Paducah           25       29       .463

Terre Haute      24       28       .462

Cairo                 22       28       .440

July 11 –  Evansville is without financial backing or a manager.  Ex-president Simons fails in his bid to take over the club and it is expected the club may soon drop out of the CL.

  League standings:

Team               Won     Lost      Pct.

Henderson        34       26       .567

Evansville         35       27       .565

Washington      28       27       .509

Paducah           28       31       .475

Terre Haute      27       32       .458

Cairo                 25       32       .439

July 19 – League standings:

Team               Won     Lost      Pct.

Henderson        39       29       .574

Evansville         39       31       .557

Washington      32       31       .508

Paducah           31       35       .470

Cairo                29       35       .453

Terre Haute       29       36       .446

July 20 – The Central League seasons collapses.  After the disbandment of the Washington club, the other teams decide it is not worthwhile to continue as all teams are in financial arrears due to so many Sunday games having been rained out.


Sources

Nashville Tennessean

newspapers.com

Paper of Record

Sabr.org

Sporting Life

The Sporting News

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