Turning The Pages

By: Paige Cline

I wrote in another column last week about the old field which, after the completion of Shuff Field, became the headquarters for Cabot Gas Co. 

I soon realized there was more to be said about this memorable place than I had space for then. It was a place that was the center of many family and community activities. 

First, you need to realize that back then, before the new high school was built, before the new football field was finished, before there were any businesses up that way, the ball field was considered pretty far out of town. There were cars but few people drove unless it was absolutely necessary. 

The field, which seemed much larger back then than it actually was, was adjoined by a shady area with white picnic tables and benches for families to use on special occasions. It doesn’t seem like very far from the Kentucky Side now but back then it was far enough from home to justify a picnic. Many a drumstick, chocolate cake and watermelon was disposed of in the area which we now know as Deaumer Park. 

Despite the number of activities and games played on the field itself, it never had a name. It was referred to simply as “the ball diamond.” If you said you were going to the ball diamond, everyone knew exactly what you meant. 

The ball diamond was where they played six-man high school football. It was where the Pineville team of the independent baseball league played on Sundays. It was where major carnivals set up their rides and tents every year. It was also where many celebrations and outdoor events were held. 

As a sidenote, I have seen several pictures of the activities that were held on the field. When I show those pictures to anyone, I ask if they notice anything significant. Some notice right away. But everyone agrees after it is pointed out to them. The thing that jumped out at me that, despite the fairly large crowds viewing the proceedings, there was not a single person who appeared to be overweight. Just a little. Every person was slim and trim. a combination of economics and diet I suppose. 

As a baseball field, there was a sandy infield with a few gullies after a hard rain. These were smoothed down for a game by dragging it with railroad ties nailed together and pulled behind someone’s truck or car. The bases were burlap feed sacks filled with sand from the river bank. 

Center field was long enough but left field quickly gave way to trees and the river. Right field was mostly highway and special ground rules were made up to allow for for safety. 

Despite its shortcomings, the ball diamond was a busy place for many years and provided the setting for children from eight to eighty to while away their leisure hours, free time did not come that easily back then since the adults usually worked long, hard hours five or six days a week. 

But this only made their Sundays and holidays that much more precious. The old ball diamond was a place that helped to make special times much more than just a day off. 

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