The Richmond Register

Lifestyles & Community

April 29, 2013

Baseball coaches and athletes of long ago

Madison's Heritage

RICHMOND — The obituary of Billy Hyatt of Mt. Vernon led me to recall some local baseball stars of the past.

Billy played in the Tobacco Baseball League, with which I was affiliated with from 1949 until 1951, when I graduated from Eastern and was called to active military service.

Here are some (but not all) of the tobacco League team managers:

• Wildie – Billy Hyatt and Julian Shaw

• Central – Gordon Tate and Hardy Parke

• College Hill – Jack Ginter and June Ed Bogie

• Waco – Charles Richardson and Harold Gibson Rice

• Madison County – Ralph McMaine

• Richmond No. 1 – Nelson Hartson

• Richmond No. 2 – Bobby or Billy Randall and Edgar Estes

• Kirksville – Fred Prewitt

• Hackley – Nathaniel Rogers

• Ravenna – Basil Seale

Over the years, many teams joined the league, dropped out and reformed. I never really got to know the managers from the teams from Lexington, Ford, Bear Wallow and Berea.

College Hill, Wildie and, I believe, Ravenna teams had their own ball parks. The rest mainly played on local high school diamonds.

For years, I used to see and talk to old league members, but the passage of time has reduced our numbers.

The memories of those long summer days linger on. Don Richardson was a player in the Tobacco League, and his successful coaching career, including an undefeated season and national high school championship, came later. The Wilson brothers were affiliated with the Berea team.

Local sports legend “Spider” Thurman once said the best basketball player he ever played with was Charles “Chuck” Schuster.  Schuster also played baseball.

Thurman often spoke of the special connection my father, Fred Allen Engle Sr., had with Eastern students who had come from the mountains – Harlan, Bell, Knox, Whitley and Laurel counties in particular.

My father came from Indian Creek in Knox County and was the faculty sponsor of the Upper Cumberland Club at Eastern in the 1930s.

With a laugh, “Spider” would say that all the students taking my father’s business math and teacher arithmetic courses would claim to be Baptists – during the semester at least.

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