History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny G. Cordell
“The Boys of Summer”
In 1958 Chapel Hill Church organized their first baseball team. Some of the churches in Dunlap had previously organized a church youth baseball league in 1955, so when we entered the league we were the new kids on the block. Over the years Chapel Hill Church had a substantial number of excellent young athletes who played at Center Point School and later exhibited their skills at the high school level. However, during the first year of baseball participation, our young boys were making the transition from elementary school softball to church league baseball. Our first coach for a short period of time was Lynn Wilson, who I think had some minor league time with the Chattanooga Lookouts. He was very invaluable in the transition from a large ball lobbed to a hitter as opposed to a small hard ball delivered in an overhand method at speeds of 50 to 70 miles per hour from a distance of 46 feet. Needless to say, this transition coupled with competition against experienced teams, created a difficult situation winning games our first year.
Some of the players that year were Danny Wilson, Tommy Austin, Stanley Barker, Clinton Cox, Edward Barker, Steve Swanger, Hugh Barker, Ronnie Swanger, DeWayne Brown, David Fletcher and others. Our first practice was at Center Point School and later practices were in a small field next to Aunt Sallie Barker’s house. DeWayne Brown was our pitcher. DeWayne was a big kid with a big arm and a blistering fastball. No one could hit his fastball, but DeWayne had a problem with ball control, so consequently no one wanted to practice batting for fear of being beaned. It was somewhat comical to watch players run out of the batter’s box when DeWayne started his wind up. Nevertheless, DeWayne pitched our first game which resulted in good news and also bad news. The good news was the opposing batters had a hard time getting a bat on the ball, but the bad news was Dewayne hit about every other batter, so we lost the game because too many opposing batters were put on base and into scoring position. This went on for a couple of games when it was decided that our team needed to recruit another pitcher. I think everyone except me volunteered for a tryout. Even though I was the softball pitcher, I did not want to be the baseball pitcher. To make a long story short, I was eventually asked to tryout. I did not have a blazing fastball, but apparently I was the only one who could get the ball over the plate in a controllable manner. Regardless of how I felt about it, I was drafted on the spot. We didn’t fare much better in the win column that first year, but our boys were learning how to hit the ball and play defense.
Our games were played on a baseball field located behind the Dunlap Elementary School. On the right side of the field was a pasture occupied by Carlye Bryant’s cows. The left side of the field was a large overgrown ditch which occasionally swallowed-up the baseballs and sometimes a left fielder. A ball hit into the ditch was invariably a home run, so for right handed hitters, swinging for the “big ditch” was an attractive target.
The second year our first game was the First Baptist Church, their nickname was the Royal Ambassadors or R.A’s. The R.A’s had beaten us rather badly the first year, showing us no mercy or love. Having returned 90% of our team, decent pitching, and a superb defense, we returned the favor. I don’t know if we showed any love in victory, but we sure loved beating the R.A’s. We not only won the game, we went undefeated for the remainder of the season.
Somewhere during the course of the first year, our pastor Robert Boy agreed to take over the team as coach. Reverend Boy was a young 25 year old preacher and really enjoyed working with the team. During the course of a game, he would become very animated, scolding the umpires, and occasionally doing a little good humored Christian trash talking. After every game he would also make sure that he apologized to all the opposing players and coaches. I think Preacher Boy’s actions during the game were probably done to keep us focused and fired up, but whatever the reason, we loved it.
Pastor Robert A Boy was only our preacher for about two years. He was a talented individual, and later became a volunteer secretary at the annual conference. Brother Robert A Boy passed away in 1989 in Bristol, Tennessee. In memoriam 2 Timothy 4:7
Last month’s question: what year did Chapel Hill organize a youth baseball team? 1958
Next month’s question: Because he loved Chapel Hill and Sequatchie Valley. What Methodist Minister at his death, was returned to Chapel Hill for burial?