The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

When Baseball Came To Meadows of Dan

By YKW © 1983

Issue: August, 1983

mountain memories1920 photograph by Van Marsh of YKW's childhood home place on Tuggle's Creek.

Introduction to YKW

This month the Mountain Memories are those of a man who grew up in this area but moved away in his adulthood. He came by The Mountain Laurel one day and gave us a handwritten pad of his memories. We have thoroughly enjoyed reading them and I know you will. He prefers not to identified but be known by the pen name of “YKW.” This was the way kids of his schooldays signed notes and autographs. It stands for “you know who.” I’m sure local people of his age group will be able to figure out who he is by his writings but that just adds to the fun. Starting next month we will feature his memories in a regular article series called “Growing Up On Tuggle’s Creek.” He even furnished some photographs to go with different stories. The photograph above is his childhood home place on Tuggle’s Creek. He didn’t give his age but I would guess it to be close to eighty, give or take a year or two. Thank you, Mr. YKW, for honoring The Mountain Laurel with your memories. We appreciate your sharing them with us.

When Baseball Came To Meadows Of Dan

Very few of us had ever even heard of the game of baseball until Jim Divens arrived from Pittsburgh. The game played was “Town Ball” where the pitcher was on your side and always threw good strikes for you to hit. Then you ran around a circle until you were stopped by the ball being thrown across the path in front of you. The bat was a big flat paddle so it was difficult to miss the ball.

But all that changed when Jim Divens hit “town.” I don’t suppose he was any great player, but he knew just about all there was to know about baseball; especially the language and chatter that went with it. He soon began recruiting players and organized a team, none of whom had ever seen a game.

Mr. Ed Reynolds allowed them to use a pasture field out near the post office and somebody planted long poles and stretched chicken wire across them for a backstop. Home plate was a board painted white and the bases were sacks filled with sand.

Wives and mothers got into the act and sewed the uniforms, which were made of a red cotton cloth. I suppose they were the original Red Birds. For lettering, Meadows of Dan was too long to fit on it so it was shortened to “M of D.” The local merchants put up the money for the necessary equipment and the team was in business.

None of the players wanted to catch behind the bat so Jim Divens himself was always the catcher, rooting the team on with a constant stream of chatter.

The word soon spread to other neighborhoods and pretty soon Vesta, Mayberry, Laurel Fork and Willis came in to form a sort of league, with games always played on Saturday when pretty good crowds turned out to watch.

I wish I could name all the players on our team but it’s been too long ago. I do recall Posie Shelor, Carl Spence, Jesse Shelor, and a few others. The game was probably a comedy of errors to an expert, but to us it was the finest entertainment we’d ever had.

Then World War I came along and most of the team was drafted into the army. The younger generation took it up but we lacked the leadership and enthusiasm that Jim Divens gave it.