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  • Writer's pictureDoak Turner

Little League Billy Dunn Field

Updated: Aug 22, 2019

Must have been summer of 1971 when I was 12 years old. I tried out for Little League. I’d played 3 years of minor league, ended with us winning the championship – The Braves! I got up, 2 strikes and hit one deep to centerfield to drive in the winning run – something like that! My favorite bat had broken, so I had to use one, I can still feel that bat, it had some sort of rope like grip on it, I’d never held it as I had a cool bat with the bottom of the bat had blue paint and a 29 size on it.

I always played outfield and was the centerfielder for the team.

So Little league tryouts- I get a call that Saturday afternoon from Mr. John Thompson that I made Morrison & Mullens.  Sunday 1:00 come to practice.

I rode my gold stingray bike across the tracks to Billy Dunn Field.

To start practice we had to run 2 laps around the field – whew – not what I was expecting. I did not really know any of the other teammates as they attended other schools in the area.

I took to the outfield drills and of course batting practice.

I remember the end of practice – run two more laps around the field. Wore me out! I was dragging riding that bike home to Ordnance Park.

Every Sunday was our practice time – hated that! I was used to being with family on Sundays.

We also had to go door to door a couple evenings selling tickets to a pancake breakfast to raise money for the league.

The Friday evening before opening day, we had practice. I remember Highlawn Elementary had some sort of carnival and one or two of the players skipped practice and went to Highlawn.  Near the end of practice, Coach Thompson move me to play 2nd base! I had never played infield. I did ok I guess and 2nd base was mine for the rest of the season.

Opening day parade and to the field. Mom was assigned to work concession stand during my game.

I was nervous however in the first inning, someone hit a ground ball to me, I threw out the runner at 1st base, I was OK!  I also was part of a 4-6-3 double play, throwing the ball to SS John Thompson, who then threw out the runner at 1st!

I remember going 2-3 – 2 singles and a fielder’s choice for the day. I think I brought home a tying run with a hit to deep center with two strikes in the top of the 6yh inning. We lost to IGA and they pitched Mike Kellerman – one of the toughest pitchers in the league.  I had 2 strikes against me every time, but connected to hit the ball and get on first base.

Fun season of life that summer and very thankful to the teammates and coaches at Billy Dunn Field.

A post I put on Facebook post a couple years ago:

I remember Mr. Thompson made us run two laps to begin practice and two laps to end practice - wore me out! Then it was crazy when he told us to run a lap during a game if we took a 3rd strike! That was bad! Other than those running laps, good times! The trip at the end of the year to see The REDS made the laps worthwhile! The Sunday at Coney Island and ride on the Greyhound bus back. That was fun with all the 12 year olds! Great memories years later Buddy and Steve! How about selling those pancake breakfast door to door to raise money? The opening day parade!

Another post that brought back memories:

Starting Lineup for Morris and Mullens: Jimmy Reed, Frank Godbey Jr.. John Thompson, Jimmy Hale, Steve McGrath, Greg Loony, Scott (forgot his name), Buddy Steele John Thompson's dad coaching and Bob Creamering was assistant coach. I left out some, but pretty good memory!

Buddy Steele completed the team: Buddy Steele Scott Linky, Bob Vickers, Dwayne Duran and Jerry Cremering

My glove is below! I remember mom buying me new shoes – black with 3 white stripes to wear for the games.

Overall a great time of life with lifetime friends.

Years later, I coached T-Ball with my brother Jason's team and had our Kern's cousins and other great kids on the team the first year. Jim Lewis asked me to coach when I took my brother and sister to tryouts. The next year, I selected our T Ball team that had future Little league All-Stars on it - lots of fun.

Jason's 12 year old team in Little League, I ended up coaching as an assistant and we went from one of the worst 1st half teams, to the 3rd best team the second half of the season. I put positive thinking into those kids heads, "I'm gonna get a hit, I'm gonna get a hit" is what i had those boys saying when they went to the plate.

They started getting more hits and runs. I remember being at the field for practices and games and the best part - my mind was all right there on the field with those kids. It was a great opportunity to add positive thinking to those boys and gave me a lot as I learned from coaching those boys. We had a lot of fun that year and made lifetime memories.

Thankful for all the coaches, players, parents and all the friends and memories made at Billy Dunn Field and now Jim Lewis; name is on the field as he is the Little league legend in St Albans.

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Frank Godbey Jr.
Frank Godbey Jr.
Aug 24, 2019

Great story about Billy Dunn. I remember the Reds game and staying in the hotel overnight. Throwing water balloons out of the window of the hotel on to the side walk. M&M's was a fun season! Nice job Doak!

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