They Made Me Toe The Line!

Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 09:39 AM.

            We did hold our breaths and our tongues (for a moment) when Akin hit the fence nose first, George Horton broke his ankle sliding into second and Van Orden ripped a deep gash above his eye in a collision at first base.  

            Bob White told me about the big city. I explained how we did things in a small West Tennessee town. Tim Peters drove me down to the City Café after practice and, over a Coke, talked baseball, country music and how to survive at the university. Corky Grant didn’t say “you need to practice hard”. He led by example. Tim Turpen’s mom liked me more than him most days. We laughed and joked and got on each other…..and in between we played some pretty good baseball. It was an honor to play behind Bob White or Dain Sain and along side John Stewart, Chap Wasson, Ernest Kirk and the others. Scheuny would grab me as he headed out to right field, “Kes, you get out here quick and catch anything you can, I told Coach Majors I came here to hit, not to field.”

            If you needed an encouraging word, it might come in a strange form, but it would come. When a real problem arose, those baseball players lined up to provide aid and comfort. If you were really down and out, they wouldn’t let you get near a gun or a cliff. If you were short on cash, those guys were better than an ATM.

Jim Williams and the Paschall brothers talked me into attending the University of the South. A baseball team saw that I didn’t fail.

            Those people that think a college education is immersing yourself in European surveys, trigonometry and memorizing ream after ream of John Milton and Shakespeare, might be surprised. I learned more out on that old baseball field than all the classrooms put together.

            Billy Cunningham, a pretty fair switch hitting catcher, had the idea to get us all back to The Mountain for a reunion. We’ve been doing it for several years now. We hug each other unashamedly. We talk about marrying above ourselves. We relish in retelling those wonderful stories (again and again) of yesteryear.  We watch the present day team play. And we lean on each other getting up and down the bleachers.

            Popham keeps us informed via email on the comings and goings in our group, as well as reminding us that Akin might not have been quite as good as he says. John will zing all of us from time to time. But I thank God for John and Bobby; both live near my oldest son in the Nashville area. If something went terribly wrong they would drop everything and sprint to Josh’s aid! As would any of the others that understood I had a real need. I marvel at, and appreciate to this day, the depth of friendships that were born on that old hard rock baseball field in such an “out of the way” place. And I’m so thankful there are still things left in this world the years can’t diminish.

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