Sherman Oxendine at bat, Heidrick, KY, circa late 1930’s

Sherman Oxendine at bat, Heidrick, KY, circa late 1930’s

I told you last week that you probably already have guessed the theme of my newest stories. Yes, BASEBALL, America’s national pastime!! My story last week was about the Barbourville Governors Baseball Team 1939.  Thank you for the feedback I received especially the delightful phone call from Danny Hale who played on  Barbourville’s team in the mid to late 60’s along with Doug Logan, Don Lawson and Charlie Sowders. 

Our story this week comes from a memoir written by my brother Bill Oxendine for The Oxendine History Book Vol. 2  published December 27, 2010.  Bill writes, “ As a young boy growing up,  I had many interests but none greater than  baseball.  I played baseball every chance that I got. I played with neighbors, minor leagues, and senior leagues.  But the passion that I felt for baseball was no greater than the passion my father had for the game.”

Bill continued, “My father who grew up in the mountain community of Heidrick, Kentucky, was poor and his only communication with the outside world was listening to the radio.  It was through radio broadcasts that his love for baseball grew.  His favorite team was the St. Louis Cardinals whose games were broadcast on KMOX in St. Louis. 

My father’s first close encounter with a truly historic baseball game was during the 1932 World Series game between the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs. “My dad, being a boy of thirteen at that time always made reference to that famous shot which is still being debated among sports journalists. Babe Ruth supposedly pointed to the centerfield bleachers, stood with his bat in his left hand and hit the next pitch thrown to him.  The ball proceeded to land exactly in the center field stands which some say was the exact place Babe had intended it to go”. 

As our Dad grew older so did his passion for baseball grow stronger. Anywhere and everywhere, there was a game, you  could usually find Sherman playing with men who were generally older and more experienced.  This didn’t bother him at all since he was more than capable of holding his own. 

 “During the mid-1930’s to the late 40’s most communities such as Heidrick had a baseball team that played a game every Sunday afternoon. Most of these teams were area coal camp teams that provided the men with some form of recreational activity.  Teams included  Kay Jay, Artemus, Gatliff, Poplar Creek, Barbourville, Sterns, Swan Pond, Dogtown, Depot Dirty Ears, among others.  Some of the more notable area players were James, “Jim” Messer, Arnold “Hot Dog” Hammons, Bruce Carey, Herk York, Phillip Fox, Ben Collingsworth, Frank Hurley, Alonzo Centers and Arnold “Lasses” West along with Sherman’s teammates from Heidrick. 

Next Week Part II More Baseball Stories.

Dora Sue Oxendine Farmer can be reached at 606-546-3940 and seriousuu@yahoo.com

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