Jacob Bembry: Greene Publishing, Inc.
In 2017, baseball is as popular in Madison County, as it ever was before. With fans rooting on the home high school and middle school teams, as well as watching their children play Babe Ruth League baseball and softball, it is no wonder that the game invented by Abner Doubleday is America’s pastime. Who would have known in May 1903, the big-league games would be broadcasted on cable television and that viewers could pretty much see any team they wanted with an MLB cable network pass, or, more frequently, almost every game the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins play on Florida’s Fox Sports Network?
Imagine that it’s May 1907, but, instead of watching the Madison County High School baseball team compete against other teams in their district, you watch a team of players thrown together for one purpose: to play ball. Their opponents? Basically, any other town who has been able to muster a team. Today’s opponent has had to get its roster from both Live Oak and Lake City.
The game that had been scheduled to be played the previous Friday has been changed to Monday. The Lake City team had not shown up, due to the failure of the S.A.L. Railroad to run a train that day. Lake City issued a challenge to play after the weekend and Madison accepted. When they showed up with four of the best players from Live Oak’s team, Madison picked up the gauntlet and the umpire yelled play ball.
The grandstand was packed with spectators and Mayor Smith inaugurated the new ball park by throwing out the first pitch.
As Chappell, from Live Oak, came to bat for Lake City, he smacked a homer and scored the first run of the game. Mr. Cooke, the pitcher for Madison did not let it faze him, and got back to work, showing his “puzzling and speedy” skills.
Reid, another batter from Live Oak, playing for Lake City, “jabbed viciously with the bat” but found only the air as he went down swinging.
The next batter, Teagle (also from Live Oak), made contact with the ball and rounded first base but was thrown out at second.
A “Live Oak giant” named Oliphant was next at bat but he struck out swinging and the Madison team got their turn at bat.
Hinely for Madison smacked a triple, but was stranded at third with no place to go as McClellan, Cooke, and Horne went down in order.
At the end of one inning, Lake City (or should it be said “Live Oak?”) led 1-0.
The top of the second inning was fruitless for Lake City as Madison pitching wizard Cooke put out sorts of twists and curves to the ball and the side retired in short order.
When Madison got to bat, Taylor flied out, and Morrow and Smith both grounded out.
After Lake City was retired after two strikeouts and a foul that was caught, Madison came to bat in the third and Flowers almost hit the ball over the fence, but had to settle for a double. Flowers scored when Hinely powered through with a double, which was fumbled in the field. Sometimes, during the next two at bats when McClellan flew out to first and Cooke struck out, Hinely came in to score. Horne flied out to end the inning.
The score at the end of three innings was Madison 2, Lake City 1.
In the fourth inning, the Lake City team retired in order and Taylor scored for Madison.
At the end of four, Madison led 3-1.
Neither team could score in the fifth or sixth, and Lake City was scoreless in the top of the seventh inning.
In the seventh, Flowers hit a single for Madison, and Hinely and McClellan both grounded out.
Cooke went to bat “with blood in his eye” and smashed the ball over the centerfield fence. Flowers scored and Cooke galloped around the bases, accompanied by the enthusiastic and raucous mob of players and “rooters.”
Neither team scored in the seventh or eighth inning and Madison sent Lake City home on the train with a scoreless eighth inning and a 5-1 loss.
The starting lineup for Madison had McClellan listed as the catcher; Cooke was the pitcher; Taylor played first base; Horne was the second baseman; Morrow was the third baseman; Davis played shortstop; Flowers played left field; Hinely was in centerfield; and Smith was in right field.
The starting lineup for the Lake City-Live Oak team saw Oliphant at catcher, Reed at pitcher, Z. Taylor at first base, Breare at second, Perry at third, Teagle at shortstop, Chappel in left field, P. Taylor in centerfield, and Johnson in right field.
Cooke recorded 15 strikeouts for Madison and Reed racked up seven strikeouts for Lake City.
G.D. Coxe served as the game’s umpire.
The correspondent for the New Enterprise had some descriptive language to describe some of the players for Madison. He called Cooke a “peacherina,” Horne a “lolly cooler,” and Flowers a “heavy hitter.”