Let’s play ball, y’all!

Published 11:10 am Thursday, April 9, 2009

This week, the youth baseball and softball leagues began play here in Demopolis.

What a great time that was growing up! I have always loved baseball, and being an 11- or 12-year-old on a team — man, there was nothing like it!

In my time, there were six teams in Demopolis’s Dixie Youth League: O’Neal’s, Thermogas, Vanity Fair, Traeger’s, Loyd Jones and Serviteers. I played for O’Neal’s (that’s why I listed it first).

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My first year, I played substitute outfielder for our coach, Bobby Kiff, and the second year, Claud Neilson joined the coaching staff, and I played outfielder and even started some games at first base.

I was a lousy hitter, but a decent fielder. That’s where the statistician in me started coming out. It’s not bad enough for me to know that I was a lousy hitter, but to remember that I went 0-for-24 in my first year and 4-for-24 in my second makes me wish I didn’t have such a gift for numbers.

Being the second-string right fielder didn’t bother me much. Just suiting up and going out to play the games for an actual team was exciting to do, two games a week from the end of April through the end of June.

My team traditionally battled Thermogas, coached by Larry Harmon Sr., for the top spot, and Vanity Fair would make a run for the title, too, coached by Sonny Cameron. Not saying I made us good.. We had some really good athletes like Kevin Deal and Dudley Barnette and Ken Raines.

Man, those were the days!

Even after my tenure in that league was done (and you know I’m not good enough to make Babe Ruth League), I continued to come to the Westside park and keep the scorebook for a few years. I began to keep batting averages and earned-run averages and started writing reports for The Demopolis Times and the White Bluff Chronicle. And here I am now!

Everyone who played will believe that theirs was the golden age of local baseball and softball, and they are right. I hope this year’s batch of players has tons of fun under the lights and keeps these memories for years to come.

David Snow is managing editor of the Demopolis Times.