Talking about memories, I am sure many of you can recall the old City Softball League which was played at West End.
I can remember going with my late half-brother, Melvin Caudill, in the 1960s when he played in the league. I would serve as his team’s batboy.
Then, as I got older, I watched many great softball players smack softballs into the row of pine trees down past the left field fence. Most of them were former standout high school baseball players from this area.
Some balls would sail into the swimming pool or all the way out onto the street past the right field fence.
The landscape changed with the old park, which used to be Railroad Avenue, but was later changed to Parkway Drive.
Still, the competition and participation in the league was simply fantastic. Once I got out of high school in the summer of 1974, I began playing in the league. There would be at least three games per night, if not four.
There were tournaments on the weekends and not only was there great competition, but fans would come out in droves to watch their favorite teams and players. The Williamson Daily News would put in the scores, stats and even the standing of the league.
At one time, there were so many games that they had to split it up into two separate divisions. Teams were sponsored by local businesses and most of them had nice uniforms.
I’m sure many of you can recall some of those great teams. One in particular I can remember was Belfry Insurance, which had many former Pirate athletes on the squad - guys like James Darbyshire, Paul Morris, Millard Bevins, Ron May and many others.
There was also Fall’s Branch Market, led by the late Gibby Barker, Curt and Tommy Fletcher, Jack Fluty and many others from the Chattaroy area.
Hundreds of good players took the field in West End, too numerous to name them all.
Gatherings at the old City Softball Park in West End during the summer months were a social event. It was a fun time with great memories for many former players and fans.
There was also a women’s league and the Boy Scout League played its tournaments at the field. At one time it was also used for midget league baseball games.
Unfortunately, times have changed and there hasn’t been a league in several years. However, the ghosts of many great players may be seen coming up from the riverbank that paralleled the field before the current floodwall was constructed.
The landscape may have changed in more ways than just the setting at the old field. But, how nice would it be to see some of those old players reappear like they did from the cornfield in the movie Field of Dreams?
The stories they could tell and the fond memories of those days would be priceless.
(Kyle Lovern is the sports editor for the Williamson Daily News. Comments or story ideas can be sent to email@example.com)