Batter Gary “Stove Pipe” Drinnen of the Knoxville Holstons Vintage Base Ball team gets a good look at a pitch during a game on the grounds of Historic Ramsey House recently.
When discovering Vintage Base Ball, Gary “Stove Pipe” Drinnen found the perfect vehicle to “incorporate” two things he really enjoys.
“I really like baseball, but I also really enjoy history,” Drinnen, 37, said. “This was a great opportunity to play a game that I haven’t played as much at this point in my life.”
As a member of the Vintage Base Ball League’s Knoxville Holstons, “It wasn’t just baseball: it was baseball and history combined,” he said.
A former grade-school classmate of Drinnen’s was starting a Vintage team (1864 rules), though “I don’t think he had ever played organized sports,” said Drinnen, playing in his seventh Vintage season.
“He reached out to me and said, ‘I’m starting a baseball team as part of a history deal for me, and we need some guys who had actually played baseball before,’” this Hardin Valley resident added. “‘Would you consider coming out and playing? I think you’ll have a good time because I know you like history as well.’”
Holstons teammate Dave “Lumberjack” Purcell poses for a photo before a game.
Twenty years removed from competing on the diamond, Dave “Lumberjack” Purcell of Farragut, 53, decided to rediscover the adrenaline rush of hitting and fielding — taking a trip back in time to 1864 in the process.
Saying he was “open to getting back into something,” Purcell, a former slowpitch softball player, is a rookie with the Knoxville Holstons of the Vintage Base Ball League. It’s one of two Vintage teams in the Knoxville area and one of a handful statewide that play by the baseball rules of 1864 — and with replica equipment, uniforms and field locations. “… The way it was described it was something I wanted to do,” he said.
Having played softball both in East Tennessee and Chicago, Purcell said the on-field atmosphere of Vintage Base Ball “is a lot more laid-back than what I expected. I sort of expected more of an intense competition.
“Although I can see that some of the teams have that feel, they want to win more than some of the guys in the league,” he added. “When I played softball the goal was to win. Here it seems to be you want to have a good time, and then win.”
However, “It’s harder that you would expect,” he said.