Friday, December 13, 2013

UT's 1897 season

I've been in touch with Brian Bruce, Assistant Director of Media Relations, University of Tennessee Athletics, about updating their Baseball Record Book.

What a better place to start than the beginning?  Here's what's published in the 2013 edition of the UT Baseball Record Book.

from the
2013 University of Tennessee Baseball Record Book
page 110

I wondered where they got their information.  Student newspapers?  Scorebooks?  Yearbooks?  Local newspapers?

I called the UT Special Collections to see if they had the yearbooks onsite that I could look through.  They gave me a better answer than I could have expected.  The yearbooks are online.

from the
1897 University of Tennessee Volunteer

Comparing the games listed in the yearbook to the Record Book, I find some discrepancies. The game against Zaneville isn't listed in the yearbook.  Neither are the games against Alabama.

If you look through the Record Book you'll see that many other coaches and managers have a photo attached.  Here's an image cropped from the 1897 UT yearbook.  What a handsome looking young man.  I've found a first name and a photo.
Doak Aydelott
an editor of the Volunteer from the 1897 Volunteer
From the yearbook we can see the location of the games.  UT played Grant at Athens the second time.  UT played the University of the South at Sewanee for the first series.  UT played Vanderbilt at Nashville.  Why is this important?  It helps establish the Home and Road records.

Now, let's try to verify some of the info.  Here's some info from the Alabama Baseball Media Guide.


The scores match up for the Alabama-UT games.  I went to the University of Alabama's website and found that they also have their yearbooks online.

from the 1897 University of Alabama Corolla
Ah, UT did play them.  But not in time for the yearbooks to get to the printer.  Were the games actually on June 10-12?  Those days were Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

I have not yet been successful in finding online newspaper content that corroborates the games played and their outcome.

Here's a photo of the 1897 Alabama baseball team.
1897 University of Alabama baseball team
Let's go back to the game with Zaneville.  I think that it is actually Zanesville.  As in Zanesville, Ohio.  There is currently a campus of Ohio University at Zanesville, but I don't think that they were around in 1897.  The UT Record Book mentions just the one meeting between the two teams.  In the Record Book they are listed as the Zaneville Tracers.

from the
2013 University of Tennessee Baseball Record Book
page 109
A few issues with this one.  The year was actually 1897.  Understandable mistake.  I can't count the number of times I've had finger dyslexia.  The city is Zanesville.  With an "s".  The Tracers is the name given the the OU-Z athletic teams.  I've sent an email to their current coach asking if he knows when the program started and how long they've had their name.

I'm thinking that it was probably played against the Zanesville minor league / semi-pro team, part of the Ohio-West Virginia League.  UT has played against many professional teams over the years in exhibition games.  But that's for another blog entry.

Please know that the corrections offered here are not to cast a poor light on the University of Tennessee in their compilation of the Baseball Record Book, for it is a formidable task, but to enhance what they've assembled.

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