There Used to be a Ball Park Right There
Despite the title’s conjunction with the Frank Sinatra tune, many small-town old-timers can state: “There used to be a ballpark right there.” Contemporary baseball seems to concern itself more with luxury than it did in the “good ‘ole days.”
As I watch Fort Wayne Wizards games in their beautiful major league-style stadium with lights making the playing field just like daylight, it becomes apparent to me that minor league baseball has certainly changed. Before, players wore hand-me-downs from a major league team with stitches and patches in several places, and the playing field was covered with rocks and stones. Now, minor league players have brand new white uniforms.
I sometimes stop by the umpire’s dressing room and talk to them as the plate umpire is rubbing up four-dozen baseballs. We used to get only a dozen for each game. In 1955, a game in Fulton, Kentucky was cut short because they ran out of baseballs. You can look that up. Each time a ball went into the stands, we would get it right back. If a foul ball went into the crowd, an adult would give it to a kid and they would take it to the concession stand in exchange for a candy bar. The candy bar was worth more to them than the ball and they were actually helping the team.
The time between double-headers was valuable to the concession stand during hot weather. At times, the concession stand manager would ask us if we could give them more time than the 20 minutes between games. Mack and I would tell him it took 35 minutes to eat a hot dog. Many of the ball team’s trustees appreciated us because we would try to get a game in after a few rain delays, but the team sometimes didn’t like us for that.
Yes, minor league baseball has really changed and in Fulton, Dubuque, and the rest of the old minor league towns: “There used to be a ball park right there.” Those were great years and many players, team officials, and umpires still enjoy talking about the good ‘ole days of baseball.
And That’s The Way I Saw It.
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