Bob Thorpe, Bill Reynolds, "Hurricane" Hazle "Preacher" Roe
Jim and Susan Yeager at Dickey-Stephens Park
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Backroads and Ballplayers
A collection of stories about the players and teams of Arkansas baseball in the first half of the 20th century. Ordering information below or Amazon
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They attended their big-league baseball games on the radio. Although they had never seen Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, they imagined what it looked like. It was green and symmetrical, not unlike the converted pasture where they played on Sunday.
Our ancestors had not seen Dizzy and Paul in person, but most knew someone who had. They knew Diz was tall and lanky, with a shock of unruly dark hair. His uniform didn’t fit quite right, and he had a quick country grin. Many young men in their community looked like that.
They sat on green benches on the courthouse lawn and talked about Stan Musial. In their playing days, they had tried to emulate his stance. He batted left-handed, hunched in an awkward slouch, with his bat pointed straight up. They had seen it on the radio.
Our grandpas told us about Musial’s heroics and Enos Slaughter’s mad dash from first base to score the winning run in the 1946 World Series. Some claimed to have met the great Lon Warneke, he was a county judge down in Garland County. They compared Bob Gibson to Ole Lon. Most thought Warneke was better. After all, they were there, listening on the radio when he pitched for the Cards.
Most of our grandpas played. Many played better in their memories. Some told of playing some pro baseball, and many of them actually did. It was a way to make a living when a job playing a boy’s game was preferable to a coal mine or a struggling farm.
firstname.lastname@example.org Read more by Jim Yeager in onlyinark.com
Baseball is a red-blooded sport for red-blooded men. It's no pink tea, and mollycoddles had better stay out.
I see great things in baseball. It's our game - the American game.
I never felt more at home in America than at a ball game.
“Ray. People will come, Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. "Of course, we won't mind if you look around", you'll say, "It's only $20 per person". They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh...people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”― James Earl Jones, Field of Dreams
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Only In Arkansas articles.
Coming soon: Hard Times and Hardball
Second book on Arkansas baseball history by Jim Yeager
(no pre orders, on Hard Times and Hardball, Backroads and Ballplayers remains available below right)