Rambling With Fergie by John Ferguson
I’m sure that most of the folks who have been reading my drivel realize that much of that drivel deals with baseball in some way or another. That’s because Fergie, as a youngster, spent many, many hours at the ball park, playing the game of baseball to the point that I should have been more proficient at it. As much as I loved to play baseball, I should have at least been a minor leaguer. Unfortunately, just loving to play the game doesn’t necessarily qualify a fella to be good enough to do it professionally. It makes me appreciate, even more, the abilities of all those guys who play for a living in the major leagues, or even in the minors.
So, last week, I rambled about shagging foul balls in or around the slough, which bordered the ball diamond on the north side of what was later to become Clayton Field. But not all foul balls are equal and not all seek the same resting place. Not all were hit to the left, either. Some were hit to the right and many were hit, up and over the bleachers, directly behind home plate. Almost all of them were retrieved by us shaggers and redeemed at the concession stand for a sack of popcorn. A few fouls, however, landed on Main Street and bounced into the livery stables where Roy Carpenter housed a string of horses which we kids mistakenly referred to as the sale barn. As I recall, those were considered off-limits by us shaggers. I don’t know why, but we never ventured into that area for fouls. At least, I didn’t. It was, after all, home to the fella who Carpenter paid to tend to his string of horses, Sam Stephens.
By the way, in those days, the concession stand was located right behind the bleachers behind home plate. And it wasn’t the fine, sturdy block structure that it later became and remains today. No, it was a small, wooden shed, manned by two hardworking local folks, who shared duties in very cramped quarters.
Also in that area, a relatively small volunteer elm stood, about a foot in diameter, but big enough to provide shade for early arrivers and for the p.a. announcer, who was quite often a guy named Rex Deitrich. He was a nice guy who always had time for us kids.
I’ll do more about Sam Stephens at a later date, but for now, I’m outta here.