Archive for Thursday, January 6, 2005

Gene Young: down at the old ball field

January 6, 2005

We've come a long way since 1910. I have a picture of my dad and my Uncle Bill Young in their baseball uniforms taken in a ball field where I now live. The field was between what are now Lois and Mary streets, just east of the highway.

Later a sports facility was built that had a track, football field and tennis court between 204 North Main and Seven Mile Creek. It covered the whole area that is now a service station and mobile home park.

In the 1930s and '40s, the high school and grade school held track meets there. In the center of the track, the football field was used for six-man football. The tennis court was right next to the highway, just south of the present service station at 200 N. Main St. I remember when it was built, but not many people in town used it. The tall wire fence around it was great for kids like me to climb on. By 1938 it was obsolete.

I also remember when there was a carnival in that area between the highway and the football field. I was about 5 years old then.

Before I was born, there was a big ravine from Main and Kansas, north to Seven Mile Creek. That entire area was filled with gray shale that came out of the 710-foot coal mine shaft at the prison. The mule teams and inmates from the prison used stripping shovels to level the area. I can remember that I got in their way and I got yelled at.

By 1935, the town boys took it over as a ball field.

With our dads' influence at the prison, inmates built a steel-pole-and-wire backstop. All the boys laid out the ball field and made the bases out of sacks filled with sand. My cousin Bill Sherley made the home plate out of wood. We limed the baseline and batters box.

This ball field was used constantly by various teams and was the main source of entertainment for Lansing for many years. We had help and encouragement from many special people, but we will talk about them later.

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