The 2015 Asheville Tourists, featuring Manager Warren Schaeffer, center./ PHOTOGRAPH by STEWART O'SHIELDS for ASHVEGAS.COM
The 2015 Asheville Tourists, featuring Manager Warren Schaeffer, center./ PHOTOGRAPH by STEWART O’SHIELDS for ASHVEGAS.COM

The Asheville Tourists kick off their 2015 season tonight at historic McCormick Field. It’s set to be a great season. The team is coming off a championship year in 2014.

One of this year’s biggest stars for the Tourists may be on the sidelines – their new 30-year-old manager, Warren Schaeffer, who played for the Tourists a few years back. Now he’s coaching, and he’s clearly been identified as an up-and-comer in the Colorado Rockies organization.

Big thanks again to Asheville photographer Stewart O’Shields, who went out to the Asheville Tourists’ media day with me recently and got some great shots, including the one above.

Finally, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Tourists, I’ll be posting regular updates looking back at the Asheville Tourists and their history. First up is this story – really more of an essay – in the April 28, 1916, edition of the Asheville Citizen. I found it with the help of the great librarians in the North Carolina Room at Pack Memorial Library via Newspapers.com. I just love the writing. Baseball clearly was, and still is, the national pastime.

King Baseball will hold Asheville in its grip today

War and Politics will be driven out of thought as Umpire Shouts “Play Ball” at Oates Park This Afternoon at 4 o’clock

With interest in baseball at fever heat all over this grand old country Asheville will be gripped in the pleasant epidemic this afternoon when the bulb of the local season will burst forth in beauteous fashion and Jack Corbett’s conquering crew will clash with the Charlotte outfit at Oates park in the curtain-raiser.

The siege of Verdun, the revolution in ireland, the exchange of diplomatic notes, political maneuvers and other grave matters must be content with places in the wings of the fans’ stage while King Baseball reigns supreme in the hearts of mountain city fandom today.

All roads will lead to dear old Oates field this afternoon from the time that the gates will be thrown open at 1:30 p.m. until precisely at 4 p.m. the stentorian voice of the umpire, Play Ball! resounds over the well-rolled and newly whitewashed diamond.

Anybody who is anybody in this delightful city will gayly wend his or her way to the ball park and lend his or her individual effort in making the formal opening of the 1916 season the greatest and most successful in the history of the Carolina league, both from an artistic and financial standpoint.

Strains of the latest popular and patriotic music will fill the mountain air as a pride of city dignitaries, club officials, rooters’ clubs and members of the Asheville and Charlotte teams will precede the conflict at the Southside Avenue stadium.

Millionaires will rub elbows with street gamins, the tired business man, the busy professional man and the happy working man will mingle in the great throng at Oates park, all rooting for the common cause – a victory for the Asheville artists in the inaugural. Truly baseball makes all Asheville akin.

A holiday spirit will prevail in and about Asheville all afternoon. I tis a red letter day in the history of this city, for does not the clan of Corbett appear here in the formal opening of the baseball season after a two-ply victory in Greensboro Wednesday and yesterday – and particularly yesterdayy’s wonderful volley in the final inning. There will not be a vacant seat in the grandstand or the bleachers when play is called, for every man, woman and child who can find a plausible excuse to postpone or neglect his daily task will be on hand to greet the local players, if not by the shake of the hand, then by shouts of welcome and encouragement. All winter long the lovers of the popular diamond pastime have assumed a watchful waiting policy – waiting to cast their optics on the players that President L.L. Jenkins and Manager Jack Corbett carefully selected to represent this glorious city in the Carolina league.

But today their restraint is scattered to the four winds and their pent-up enthusiasm will give full want to vociferous yells of delight and surely there will be some good old-fashioned rooting for the home heroes – the brand that has made the mountain metropolis famous all over the circuit.

Every preparation for the inaugural has been completed. No stone has been left unturned y the management of th local club to make the affair today the most successful of its nature in the history of the city. All that remains for the rival teams to clash is for the umpire to give the usual signal by crying Play Ball.

Manager Corbett and his crew of ball tossers will arrive home this morning from Greensboro where they assisted the Goats in prying off the lid of the season of 1916 Wednesday afternoon. The brilliant victory of Corbett’s colony in the opener is still fresh in the minds of local fandom. Winning yesterday’s game has instilled even greater hopes in the nine.

The local boys will spend the morning in light practice at oates park in order to renew acquaintance with the spring of the diamond. After indulging in a hurried lunch the will don their bright new spotless uniforms, find comfortable seats in autos and await word for the start of the parade. Directed by President George Lee of the Rotary Clube the auto baseball pageant will be formed on the square and will traverse the principal business and residential thoroughfares of the city, led by the Fife and Drum corps of Asheville’s volunteer fire department. Others in the procession will be the members of the Rotary Club marshaled by Chief Rooter Sam Burton, President L.L. Jenkins’ of the Asheville baseball club and his colleagues on the directorate, E.L. Raysor, George Lee, D.S. Ellias and Dr. S.H. Sinclair, a battalion of regular rooters and the members of the two teams that will clash later in the afternoon.

It is the intention of those in charge of the auto parade to have their players return to the grounds not later than 2:30 when the regular practice session begins prior to the commencement of the real contest.

At the park the festivities will be simple but imposing – right in line with the spirit of the day. Mayor J.E. Rankin will be invited to toss the first ball over the plate and President Jenkins will probably be on the receiving end. True to tradition the chief executive will no doubt make a wild pitch, Mr. Jenkins will stretch vainly to grasp the pellet and the pesky pill will roll to the stand – a shout intermingled with joy and derision will rise from the bleachers and stand, his Royal Highness, Mr. Umprie, will bawl: Play Ball and the season will finally be on.

Marked ovations await every player on the local team. From Manager Corbett to the bat boy every wearer of a local suit will be accorded a warm reception – one that will forever linger in his memory. Our old and every growing favorites, Hickman, Bradshaw, Fenton, Lowe. Perritt, in addition to Captain Corbett, will be cordially greeted and welcomed, while the newcomers, Bitting, Burke, Dunning, Mack, Ellison, Harper and Ancker will be made to feel right at home on their debut.

And when the fans will settle comfortably down in their seats on tree tops or roofs of houses, as the case may be, to watch the excitement of the fray as it progresses from the first to the ninth round ever and anon their thoughts rudely yet joyfully interrupted by the shorts of the “rope” and peanut vendor. And Asheville folks will be merry and in their flory once more, for have not the gladsome – the baseball days – arrived again. And there will be an abundance of other interesting features to entertain and edify the baseball loving populace at Oates park from 1:30 pm to 6 pm today. Remember the battle royal begins sharply at 4 p.m.

3 Comments

  1. Going tonight!

  2. Great article! I am in great awe that our friend Twinkie of Ben’s Tune Up fame will join Mayor J.E. Rankin in the ranks of luminaries to toss the first ball over home plate to welcome this the 100th season of Asheville’s beloved baseball squad. Cheers, it’s Thirsty Thursday! PLAY BALL

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