Thinking about All-Star baseball at Maxwell Field

Published 9:07 pm Monday, June 19, 2023

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Todd Maxwell Field looks as lonesome as Kugler Field does. Gone are the days of nine through twelve year old boys playing baseball in their flannel cotton uniforms and the smell of popcorn and hot dogs coming from the concession stand.  Every Tuesday and Thursday night in my younger years you could see the uniforms of Dr. Pepper, VFW, Elks and Coca-Cola and many other teams playing baseball each night.  I can remember that slick surface infield that could make a ground ball take a hop and go straight to the outfield.

Can you remember the outfield fence and the businesses that promised any kid that hit a home run over their sign to go by and pick up s free prize?  Carolina Dairies would give you a free quart ice cream and Stewart’s Jewelry would give you a silver dollar if you were lucky enough to one over their signs.

The league did not start until the first Monday after school let out. No game was rained out.  The Parks and Recreation Department took care of the field but if it rained, dads and players were responsible for getting the water off.  I remember digging canals with a shovel to remove the water from the field and filling it with sand so we could play.

Parents ran the concession stand and they parents would furnish the winning team’s players a drink and a pack of nabs.  Sometimes, we got hot dogs and that was our supper if our parents worked in the concession stand.

John Smith was a constant, he was there every night!  He umpired every game that I played in and he was Mr. Baseball in Washington because he saw every kid who played.  Phil Edwards, Lee Drake, Alton Griffin, Donnie Waters, Bill Nolley and many more were some of his favorites.

The stands were always full.  The prettiest girls in town were there.  When you are 9-12 years old, what else is there to in Washington but watch your boyfriend play baseball.  Pull for him and eat out of the concession stand.

All-Star week was a special week. Teams from every town in Eastern North Carolina were there.  Chester Brickhouse and his Elizabeth City team was who we had to beat to go to Greensboro. We did so on a Bill Nolley grand slam in the bottom of the seventh to send us to the State Championship.

I still think the City of Washington keeps the field up but I do not know who plays there anymore.  But boy, it brings back fond memories and I hope those who played there have as fond of memories as I do.

Happy belated Father’s Day to all the Fathers and I hope you had a good day because you’re The Best!  You are role models for every child you are in contact with.

They were the best of times with the best of friends and in the best of places, Washington, N.C!  The Original Washington!

Harold Jr.