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Talking Card Baseball Helped With Cotton Patch Doldrums

Posted Friday, September 16, 2011, at 12:09 AM

We had a "Mens Town Team," but it was "talking" St. Louis Cardinal baseball that most helped us through the seemingly endless rows of cotton.

Although a small tyke, I vividly recall the night Daddy Whittle, our town team's catcher, hit a monster homerun, so far the baseball sailed over the railroad tracks (no longer there) to land in the Canalou Baptist Church yard.

The Canalou nine was playing a team from Hills Store, located between Parma, Gray Ridge and Essex.

Later, when Little League came to the Bootheel, Mothers Momma Whittle and Mrs. Dude Wrather donated time and money to ensure we had nice uniforms. My chest swelled so with pride, I wore my uniform to church to hear Rev. A.C. Sullivant, of Morehouse, deliver one of his sermons.

Saddened was I earlier this year to learn that my favorite Little League coach of all time, Donald Sexton, had died.

There is some local lore regarding my three Little League managers of youth: Donald moved to Morehouse, another ended up working in and near the White House in Washington, and a third, took up residence in the "Big House," to wit, the prison in Jefferson City after robbing Fisk State Bank.

Later, as a fledgling newspaper reporter in the Bootheel, you can imagine my surprise when covering my first bank robbery. As I was focusing the biggo Speed Graphic box camera on a door the Highway Patrol was going to escort the bank robbery suspect through at the Butler County Courthouse, I nearly fainted when my former Little League manager came in wearing handcuffs.

But, it was "baseball talk" that helped pass the time and drudgery of picking and chopping cotton. Older brother, H.Van Whittle, an "all-star" basketball player for the stinging Canalou High School Yellow Jackets of the 1950s, could quote every Cardinal players' batting average, especially the BA of Stan "The Man" Musial.

It was 1958 when a young man who had been in the Air Force at Malden, came "courting" older sister, Mary June.

After bragging that his Air Force duty had taken him to England, he asked big sister if she'd ever been out of the country. To which, she replied: "Why yes, my whole family has been out of the country...we attended two St. Louis Cardional baseball games last year."

"Play ball" and thanks for reading this edition of the Bootheel Beat.

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Great memories of how it used to be, Dan! Back "in the day," we truly felt that St. Louis was "out of the country"!

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Sep 16, 2011, at 7:09 AM

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Retired recently as world-traveled newspaperman, career made possible by late Superintendent of Schools Robert L. Rasche, about to have Bootheel life book published by SEMO State University. Loved farm life, but knew at five years old, didn't want to be a "cotton picker" when I grew up.
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