For years, I just assumed Martensdale St. Mary’s (IA) was a small Catholic school with stellar baseball, bolstered by a non-boundaried policy that allowed players to drive from miles away to join a successful program.
I was wrong.
In the midst of following a winning streak building off a 43-0 state championship run in 2010, I learned that it’s Martensdale-St. Marys, and that it isn’t a private school at all. It’s a consolidated school with rural boundaries that include the town of Martensdale (pop. 459*) and St. Marys (pop. 127.*). Perhaps had I bothered to note that their mascot was the “Blue Devils,” I likely could have concluded they weren’t a school of religious influence pretty quickly.
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The neighborhood wasn’t alluring in a touristy sort of way. Despite those including myself that flocked there in respect of one of the greatest Americans ever born, there were plenty of locals living a dream I would label a nightmare.
“Buy me a cheese sandwich, just one cheese sandwich,” she uttered.
I’m disappointed now that I didn’t hand her a couple dollars, instead choosing to stay part of our group and not get sidetracked by her request, or drawn into a conversation with a street vendor telling me why I should “support the neighborhood.”
The reality is he was right. I was in Atlanta to watch Illinois Wesleyan University’s men’s soccer team play in a tournament at Emory University. If you ever walk the campus of either university, you would understand that the word “privileged” isn’t a far stretch from the imagination.
I’m not suggesting the “silver spoon” variety. I know many of the parents that send their children to these schools are reliant upon financial aid, student loans and work study. I have been both a student and a parent reliant upon such assistance myself.
(Nyesville, Indiana) – Nyesville, Indiana was once an active coal mining area. Located in west-central Indiana not far from the Illinois border, the area today is more noted for the annual Covered Bridge Festival that includes stops in nearby Rockville.
I wouldn’t call it a tourist destination. I made trips on consecutive weekends to a town that no longer exists, but although there is no real town of Nyesville anymore, it maintains one clear claim to fame – the childhood home of Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame pitcher Mordecai Peter Centennial “Three Finger” Brown.
If you are not familiar with Mordecai Brown, he pitched in the Major Leagues from 1903 to 1916. He was noted for having an exceptional curve ball, deceptive fastball and a change up that benefitted from the unusual spin he was able to put on the ball as a result of a childhood farm accident that left him without portions of two of his fingers. This accident also occurred in Nyesville. The odd spin made the curve so effective that Ty Cobb reportedly said it was “the most devasting pitch I ever faced.” Brown was ultimately elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1949, despite his less than auspicious beginning.