The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
Baseball in the Ville...
Back in the mid-1930s there was a baseball field over by the colored masonic hall in the Ville on some property that Mr. Maurice Saltzman owned. Baseball was played during the summer months for a few years. You would either hear on the street that a game was going to be played or you could hear the crowd when the games were going on.
I didn’t know back in those days who the opposing teams were or where they came from. I’ve heard others through the years say that the teams came from Jonesville and Wisner.
I remember seeing Son Alex Barley hit the ball. It looked like after it went ever so high in the air, it would take off again. It would land way over in the Spencer yard. I also remember seeing Stemmie Cooper pitching the baseball. Stemmie was a brother to Emily Cooper who I mentioned on earlier tapes.
Frank Finister played catcher. Frank Finister’s daughter, Rachel, married Stonewall Jackson from down on the Peck place. I understand that Frank is still living. He’s got to be around eighty-five or ninety. He lives up around Monroe. [Frank Finister, Jr. still lives in Sicily Island and works down on the Peck place.]
Walter Saulsberry played first base. One day they were warming up out in the field before the game. When someone threw the ball to Walter, he would fall flat on the ground with his arm outstretched and catch the ball with one foot still touching first base and his head turned away from the person throwing the ball to him. Each time he caught the ball he would yell, “Tweet, Tweet, Tweet Twaddy, Tweet Trow!” I don’t know what it meant but I know that’s what he yelled.
I can remember the fellow who called those games. His name was Joe Rogers. His wife, Julia, worked for my mother.
As an eight or nine year old boy, I went over there a many a times to watch them play. Sometimes I was the only white person there. There would be at least a few hundred people there watching and enjoying the games. I don’t know that I really understood the game at that young age. I was there mainly to play on the sidelines with my little friends, Willie Jim, Dolly and Tommy Lee.
By the late 1930s, rent houses were built on the lot where the baseball field sat so there was no more baseball in the Ville.
Fighting on the Sidelines…
There was always some fighting going on at the ball field. I never saw any of the players or the fans fighting. The fights were always between the kids. I remember at one game Ike got in a fight with William B. McIntyre. Ike was Matilda’s son and that’s all I knew him by. I don’t remember their last name. Matilda was a crippled colored lady who lived down on the Peck place and helped my Aunt Nita Peck for a good many years.
William B. McIntrye was the son of Bass and Candice McIntrye. William B. was a town dude and Ike was a country boy from down on the plantation. William B. died when he was just a young man. As well as I can remember, William B. had some kind of kidney disease.
After Ike and William B. fought that day, Dolly and I put on a little exhibition. I believe Dolly’s real name was Willie Cain. His mother was Bessie Cooper. We played together a lot but most every time we met up we fought. We matched up pretty good. Once Dolly and I fought, Dolly and Willie Jim fought. Even though Willie Jim wasn’t any bigger than us, he was three or four years older. Willie Jim won that fight.
I saw Dolly about forty years later when his aunt, Mag Cooper, passed away. Mag Cooper was a cousin to Emily Cooper. Mag lived out on the Rock Road. She worked for us off and on for several years. Mag spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with us the last ten years of her life.
Note: Parts 1-55 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.