It was a Friday evening a couple weeks ago, but not an ordinary evening for me. I’ve tried to write about it previously, but some unplanned life occurrences have kept me away from the keyboard.
Still, it’s worth describing the scene – a high school football game where more people stand around the field’s perimeter than are actually registered in the town’s census-certified population listing.
Life in a small Iowa town.
The weekend is my 30th class reunion, a wonderful, shared event among three classes who joined forces in the planning, hoping for a better turnout than prior events.
Reading time: 4 minutes
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.
My dad was barely eight years old when the ball cleared the fence, but Bobby Thomson’s ‘Shot Heard ‘Round The World’ in 1951 was a moment that stayed with him his entire life, one that ended earlier this year.
For Thomson, he too died this past Monday, ironically in Savannah, Georgia where HE lived and I was married.
That fact really has no relevance other than, growing up and hearing about this home run over and over, I felt a connection to Thomson and his home run even though it predated my existence by ten years.
I was in row two for the opening game of the team’s existence, a 7-0 shellacking of the Evansville Otters in their historic Bosse Field. For the five of us that made the trip, it was an optimistic start to the return of professional baseball to Bloomington/Normal. With two additional wins to complete the weekend sweep, the Normal CornBelters’ first season in the independent Frontier League would start with significant momentum.
As of this writing, they now sit in fourth place in the Western Division (26-33), 18 games out of first and ten games out of playoff contention.
But wins and losses aren’t the topic here. I’m sure there must be growing pains for every franchise, and I would expect nothing different for the ‘Belters. As an occasional patron, I hope to see the franchise succeed, as it’s nice to have a summer entertainment alternative on those nights the CornBelters are at home.
(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.