Monday, November 7, 2016

Heroes of the Diamond

Kerrville All-Stars, 1949
courtesy of Clifton Fifer
Last Saturday evening a group of athletes were honored at a special event held at Barnett Chapel United Methodist Church: Joe Lewis, Raymond Hardee, Marion Shaw and Allen Hicks. The four men are among the few surviving members of the Kerrville All-Stars baseball team, an African-American team that played here in the 1950s.
The All-Stars team was one in a line of local teams, the earliest starting in 1922. These segregated teams played some spectacular baseball, and people from all over our community enjoyed watching them play. Games were held at Carver Park, on Sundays, after church.
Greg Garrett, an education specialist at the Institute of Texan Cultures, gave a presentation, then moderated a round-table discussion with the players. Mr. Garrett's presentation was quite interesting and one could tell he loves the game of baseball.
The discussion among the players was wonderful, and the stories they told were great. Those stories were the highlight of the evening, as the men gently teased each other and shared memories with the audience.
I was impressed by the sense of fellowship at the event: these men loved their community, and the community loved them right back. That was very evident Saturday evening. What great stories were shared.
* * *
I have been pleasantly surprised by the huge response to last week's column about the 75th anniversary of the dedication of Antler Field. On November 1, 1941, the stadium was dedicated with some great football: both the Tivy High School team, and a team from Schreiner Institute played there that evening.
More than a few folks contacted me and said they were there that evening, and one, Louis Burton, noted I'd made an error in telling the location of the previous football field, the one used before the stadium was built.
I'd reported the old field was behind the old high school, in the block bordered by College, 2nd, Gilmer, and North Streets was the location of that old field; the actual location was behind the old elementary school, in the block bordered by Tivy, Barnett, College, and 3rd streets.
I believe him, of course, and hope this clears up the error.
Another reader, Jack Stevens, told me about that evening: Schreiner students and fans were seated on the visitors' side, and Tivy students and fans were seated on the home side. So both sides of the stadium were filled with supporters of the home teams.
Both Jack and his wife Frances were at the dedication of the stadium. Frances (Real) Stevens was the Tivy drum major that night; Jack was a freshman cheer leader for Schreiner. He'd graduated from Tivy in 1941.
I have many happy memories from time spent at Antler Field, and it's obvious a lot of readers do, too.
* * *
Gentle Reader, by the time my next column is published Election Day will have come and gone. I know many of you will be glad this contest is ended.
Like many of you, I know folks who will be voting Republican, others who will be voting Democrat, and a tiny few who will be voting for a candidate from a minor party.
As in every election, there will be winners and losers. The important thing to remember is this: we are all Americans, and in voting we exercise a freedom held by so few, and paid for with a dear price. An election won or an election lost does not change that.
I urge you to go vote if you haven't done so. I don't care which candidate gets your vote.
Perhaps on Wednesday there will be a new effort to build community and to heal the divisions we face. I certainly hope so. Perhaps you and I need to be the change we seek in the world.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who knows a man who once flew over the North Pole: Capt. Jack Stevens. He told me it was too cloudy, so he didn't see Santa Claus.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times November 5, 2016.

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