Every Coach’s Dream, A True Story about Dixie Youth Baseball in Three Small Towns, by Harold A Brown

Chapter 7: League Game Four – College Grove

We have to learn as we go.

Nolensville Red would go to College Grove for game four. That gave the Red team a chance to make amends for the last loss. Some of these kids went to school together. Can you imagine the chatter that took place?

Coach was still trying to get his batting order adjusted. The first two were good but the rest needed some tweaking.

Mike House would start again for College Grove. Coach expected to see him for two innings. He struck Lajuane out and then got Marty to pop-up for the second out. Jimmy could not hit the curve that Mike was using. He struck out on six pitches. Out like a lamb. College Grove didn’t look much better in the bottom half of the first. Rocket struck out their first two batters, Keith Bennett and Toby Pace. Mike drove one to left center for a single. He stole second while Lakeith was in the process of striking out. Good inning for Rocket.

Rocket led off the second with a walk and then stole second. Darryl got on base with a single and drove Rocket home in the process. He was aggressively trying to turn his single into a double but wasn’t fast enough to beat the ball to the bag. Owen struck out for the second out.

Frank walked. The third out came when Alex couldn’t get his bat close to the pitch.

J.D. Martin, College Grove’s third baseman, would reach first on a fielding error. He would steal two bases and score the tying run while his team mates were batting. Rocket would walk the second batter and give up a double to center field that scored Martin. Rocket then struck out the next two batters and got Keith to pop-up to Lajuane at shortstop.

Mike was doing a number on the batters. With two outs, the Red team loaded the bases. Darrell was in a good spot to score some runs for his team but his cousin, Mike House, put him back on defense with the third strikeout of the inning. Coach was surprised that Mike had been allowed to pitch three innings. Coach Bennett appeared to be losing confidence in his other two pitchers.

Important Moment: Five years later Coach noticed that Darrell and Mike had a mouthful of smokeless tobacco. He approached them and asked why they would put that nasty stuff in their mouth? Of course they didn’t have a good reason which prompted Coach to tell them that they couldn’t continue that habit. They insisted that their parents didn’t care if they used the tobacco. Coach didn’t believe that a responsible parent would ever knowingly allow their fifteen year old child to use that nasty stuff. His response was, “if your mother tells me it is okay then I will allow it.” The next practice they both came to Coach and said that their mothers found no problem with them dipping. Coach was a bit shocked and replied, “I do and you can’t.” They appealed but Coach would not back down. He never saw them with tobacco again but was sure they didn’t quit. Death doesn’t exist for the young. Maybe Coach made a difference.

Toby Pace reached base on the second fielding error by the Red team. Toby stole second to put himself in scoring position. Mike hit a grounder back to Rocket and was thrown out at first. Lakeith hit the ball to right center for a single which brought Toby home for their go-ahead run. Martin reached first on another fielding error. What was happening? The next batter grounded back to the mound and was put out at first. The last batter struck out but the lead now belonged to The Grove.Owen led off the fourth with a single and stole second. Keith Bennett was now pitching and should have been very hitable. He had nothing special. With that said he proceeded to strike out three of the next four batters while walking one. Coach Bennett was looking like a genius.

Rocket struck out two of the next three batters while getting Keith to dink one in front of the plate and having Owen throw him out at first. The fourth inning was over.

The Red team sent six batters to the plate and loaded the bases before Frank struck out. Nine runners had been left stranded at this point.

Rocket worked another good inning. He faced four batters, striking out two. Mike got another hit, this one for an extra base. Toby grounded out.

The top of the sixth was the Red team’s last chance. They needed one run to tie and keep the game moving. Lakeith took Keith Bennett’s place on the mound after Keith hit Alex on the second pitch and Teddy came through with a base hit. Alex moved to third on the hit. Teddy stole second base, giving the team two runners in scoring position. Imagine the shock when Lajuane scored both of them with a double to right center. Lakeith didn’t have great control. The Grove never knew what they were going to get from him. Marty walked and stole second. Jimmy got two bases on a fielding error but Lajuane was thrown out at home. Once again the team had two runners in scoring position and only one out. Rocket and Darrell were up next but both struck out leaving the two base runners stranded.

They went into the bottom of the sixth with a one run lead. All Rocket needed to do was perform his magic. He struck out the first batter but could not find the strike zone and walked the next three. It could be called home field advantage or sour grapes. Keith Bennett was up with bases loaded. Whether you like it or not, he hit one to deep left field that seemed to have eyes. It landed just fair and drove in the two runs they needed to tie and win.

Rocket struck out eleven batters and walked four, three of the walks were in the bottom of the sixth. It’s possible he lost his concentration or simply gave out. Maybe, just maybe, Coach should have changed pitchers. Some things are hard to swallow. We have to learn as we go. 

Nolensville Red 3, College Grove 4

Every Coach’s Dream, A True Story about Dixie Youth Baseball in Three Small Towns, by Harold A Brown

Chapter 6: League Game Three – College Grove

The strength of the individual is team and the strength of the team is the individual.

They had every confidence about their third game. College Grove would come to Nolensville on Monday and Darrell Skinner would be the starting pitcher.

Mike House would start for The Grove. Coach Terry Bennett would use the same formula for almost every game. Each of his three best pitchers would pitch two innings each game. They were at the top of his batting order. With the weaker hitters on the bottom half. The trick was to throw strikes because they didn’t want to swing their bats.

Darrell walked Keith Bennett, their lead off hitter, on five pitches. Toby Pace followed him but Darrell struck him out with his sixth pitch.

Mike House was in the third spot and collected a single on Darryl’s first pitch. He tried to stretch it into a double when Keith tried to convince Lajuane that he was going to run home. Lajuane faked the throw home but went to second base for the second out. Mike House was a good twelve year old player. His father was the assistant coach on College Grove’s team.

John House: John was a Methodist preacher and thought of baseball as a second job. Mike would later play for Coach on his 15-16 year old team.

Lakeith Vaughn, the best athlete on their team, got a home run off of Darrell’s first pitch. Two runs scored. That is how they played. The big sticks were their money players.

J.D. Martin also hit Darrell’s first pitch for a base hit. Darrell was throwing strikes, they were just being hit where the defense couldn’t do anything about it. Their sixth hitter was struck out on three straight pitchesRunners were needed in the bottom of the first. Lajuane walked on six pitched and Marty got another double. Coach was feeling good with runners on second and third. Jimmy Johnson, Rocket, and Darryl struck out in turn. This was not a good sign but it wasn’t because the players didn’t care. Their seventh batter walked but eight and nine struck out. Darrell was small but certainly a gamer. Keith Bennett, the top of College Grove’s order, walked and Toby Pace moved him to second with a base hit. Mike House hit a line drive to Jimmy for the last out.

Owen grounded out to first while Frank and Alex struck out. The score at the top of the third was two to nothing. Pure entertainment unless you are a coach or parent.

Darrell was doing his job on the mound but the baseball seemed to have eyes for College Grove. Lakeith Vaughn led off with a double. He was long and lean, a recipe for speed. The next two batters hit singles and scored Lakeith. Darrell was ready for relief so he switched places at first with Jimmy. He walked the next batter and then struck out the next two. Coach was feeling good about the move. Keith Bennett, with the count one and one, got the bat on Jimmy Johnson’s third pitch. His triple scored the three runners on base but his greed got him thrown out at home with a good throw from the outfield. Luck was not the Red team’s lady tonight.

Teddy Hannah and Lajuane Stewart struck out to start the bottom of the third and Marty Jones hit a liner back to Mike House on the mound.

College Grove scored six more runs in the fourth and fifth innings and nothing in the sixth. Twelve to nothing is not what Coach had expected.

The bottom of the sixth would bring Lakeith Vaughn to the mound. His control was never very good but he threw hard. With the lead that College Grove had, there wasn’t much chance that they would lose their lead. The kids just had to make him work. Marty hit a single and stole second and third. Jimmy struck out and Rocket walked and stole second. Darrell and Owen walked. Brad Alexander struck out and Alex Lankford hit the ball at the shortstop. The shortstop’s error allowed the two base runner to score. Teddy struck out to finish the game.

The strength of the individual is team and the strength of the team is the individual. 

College Grove 12, Nolensville Red 2

Every Coach’s Dream, A True Story about Dixie Youth Baseball in Three Small Towns, by Harold A Brown

Chapter 5: League Game Two – Rockvale

Is experience a friend or foe?

Rockvale was a small community south of Nolensville. Their boys were what everyone called corn fed because they were so big. Truth was, they were like every other team, some were small and a few were large.

This would be the Red team’s first meeting of this Rockvale team and their second regular game. Rockvale had beaten the College Grove team earlier in the week. Coach Burns would rather beat them than eat. For some reason those communities were into children’s sports. Their value as people was directly related to wins on the playing field. Coach had witnessed knives being pulled and bottles being thrown because a call or play didn’t go the way someone thought it should.

Whatever the size of the children, Rockvale was a tough community. One of the rare thing, in those day, was to see a woman coaching a boys baseball team. It still is. On one occasion, Coach saw a barefooted female coach at third throw her cigarette down and stomp it out with her bare foot. Coach made a mental note that day to always give her extra space.

Coach was glad to be playing them in Nolensville. Rocket would be the team’s starting pitcher on that Friday night. Their first hitter would send a long fly ball to Teddy, in right field, for the first out. One pitch, one out. What a great start. It was good to see Teddy be successful because with each success his confidence grew.

Their shortstop was hitting second and his second pitch was a line drive to Marty for out number two. The defense was doing its job and Rocket was making the most of his pitches. With the success that Rocket was having, their third batter should have taken some pitches, just to make Rocket workharder. He did not choose to do that and pulled the first pitch down the third base line. Jimmy made an easy catch and threw the ball to first to end the top of the first with out number three.

As usual, Lajuane started the Red team’s inning. The thing that wasn’t routine was seeing him hit the ball back to the pitcher for a throw out back at first. Coach was glad to see him be aggressive at the plate, too many batters are content watching the pitcher and never moving the bat. Coach told the boys that it was simple, “see the ball, hit the ball.” It’s not that simple but it is just that simple. Baseball is such a simple complicated game. How could that be? Well, it just is.

Marty had been hitting everything in sight and this at bat was no exception. The first pitch to him was a double. The team was doing the same thing that Rockvale was doing, only they now had a base runner.  Jimmy was not afraid to swing his bat but he refused to swing at a pitch that wasn’t in the strike zone. There had been times in the past when Coach had wanted him to swing at pitches because he was the last batter capable of hitting. Jimmy, on the other hand, refused to see that fact. This team didn’t have that problem and Jimmy took the first pitch for a ball. The second and third pitch were strikes and Jimmy was taking his measure of what the pitcher had. He also gave Marty a chance to take third base on a missed ball by the catcher. Jimmy took the next two pitches for a full count. Jimmy was doing his job at the plate and to prove his ability with his bat, he drove the last pitch through the gap into right field for a double and one run batted in.

Rocket was going to the plate with all the confidence in the world. Rocket went down on three pitches. Failure only made him more determined. Self image is the single most important factor in performance. I don’t know where he got it, but Rocket had a strong self image.

Darrell had taken notes when Jimmy was at bat and made the pitcher work harder after Rocket had given him a break. After three straight balls he drove the fourth pitch into left center field and allowed Jimmy to score. Darrell had the third double of the inning.

Owen took the first pitch, a called strike, and allowed Darrell to take third base. On the second pitch, Owen put the ball over the right fielder’s head for the third run of the inning and a triple for himself. Frank was not an experienced ball player but he certainly made up for it with effort. After four pitches, Frank accounted for the third out. Frank and his cousin, boys with different abilities and goals, had recorded two strike outs in the bottom of the first.

The top of the second would present Rocket with Rockvale’s best hitter. He was Coach Burns’ son Chris. He was a strong kid with an attitude like his father. Coach Burns and the Nolensville Red team were on friendly terms and they both liked beating College Grove. Coach Bennett, the coach for College Grove, had been beating them for years. They always thought it was because he had better kids and that may have been true, but not always.

Chris Burns made Rocket work for the first time this game. With the count three and two, he put the fifth pitch in the gap between right and center field. He was not fast enough to turn the sure single into a double and had the intelligence to recognize the fact. The fifth batter in their order was also their best pitcher, Jimmy McCrary. He was a young player with a strong arm and a good glove. His parents were proud of his ability. Rocket struck him out in six pitches. He got the next batter in five pitches. 

With two strikeouts in the inning, Rocket took a mental vacation. The bottom of Rockvale’s batting order was weakand the next two batter didn’t hit the ball but Rocket didn’t thrown strikes when he should have. He had gotten himself and his team in trouble. As everyone knows, there is no defense for walking a batter. Bases were loaded with two outs. Their number nine batter was up and probably had orders not to swing at any pitch. The first pitch was down the middle for a called strike one. Owen was giving his pitcher a good target and no reason for the slow Chris Burns, on third, to think that he would be able to steal home. Pitch two was exactly like the first and got the same results from the umpire. Not being sure about the batter’s ability, Rocket put the third pitch just off the edge of the plate for ball one.

The Rockvale parents were encouraging their batter with cheers of, “good eye.” Everyone knows that means don’t swing that bat, let the pitcher walk you. Rocket was having none of that and his next pitch was a hard one down the middle for a called strike that retired the team. Rocket returned to the dugout with that signature smile his team loved and the other team envied.

The bottom of the second would send Alex up first. He had an independent mind. That is good in some cases but from a team perspective it doesn’t always work. Alex and Coach would have a battle of wills if his attitude didn’t correct itself. Alex could hit the ball, but he didn’t always see it. He drew a walk with ball four after a full count. Teddy was the last batter in the order but was by no means the weakest hitter on the team. In fact he had a batting adverage of 500 so far in this young season. On the first pitch to Teddy, Alex stole second base. Two pitches later he moved to third. Alex was causing the pitcher some problems. He walked Teddy on seven pitches.

The batting order was back to the top. Lajuane was looking for a hit. The first pitch was put into play between thefirst and second basemen. Lajuane brought Alex home and moved Teddy to second. Marty was on a streak. His second double of the game scored Teddy and Lajuane. Marty stole third on Jimmy McCrary’s fourth pitch and Jimmy walked on the fifth. Rockvale change pitchers. Chris Burns was trying to save some of Rockvale’s pride. After the change, Rocket scored Marty with a single. While Darrell was in the process of getting four straight balls, Rocket stole second and third. Owen also received four straight balls while Darrell took second.

The bases were loaded for Frank. For the second time in a row Frank struck out. Alex walked again and scored Rocket. Teddy struck out on five pitches for the teams second out. Lajuane reached the plate for the second time during the inning and drew a walk that scored Darrell.

What a difficult situation to place your pitcher in, bases loaded with the other teams best hitter coming to the plate. Marty had already hit two doubles and was his teams best hitter for average. Marty was patient. Chris was having trouble throwing strikes but Marty didn’t want to walk. On a two and two count Marty improved on his two doubles for the night with a triple and his fifth RBI for the game. Jimmy wanted to pick up another run batted in but hit the ball at the first baseman for the final out of the second inning. The Red team was leading thirteen to zero.

The top of the third found Rockvale back at the top of their batting order. Rocket had been sitting to long and sent the first batter to first on four pitches. Rocket knew that he would have to work harder. He made the second batter hit into a fielder’s choice. Marty threw to Lajuane for the out at second. With the third batter the team made a rare error and Rockvale had two runners on. Rocket pitched carefully to Chris Burns and walked him, loading the bases. The next two batters made Rocket pitch to a full count and both struck out. Failure is the first step on the way to success.

Rocket led off the bottom of the third with a single. Darrell moved the runner to second on a fielder’s choice to the second baseman with an assist to first. Rocket stole third on the second pitch to Owen. After the steal, Owen sacrificed the runner home for the second out. Brad had replaced Frank and was making his first appearance at the plate. He hit a hard grounder back to the pitcher who got an assist at first for the third out.

The top of the fourth sent the team on defense with confidence. Everyone was doing their job. Rocket got the first batter on three pitches and the second batter walked on four. Glory is not gained without difficulty. The next batter also walked. The top of the order was back up and he had hit the ball both times at bat. He did it again. Lajuane charged the ground ball and found Jimmy at third for the second out. He in turn found Marty at second for the third out and the first double play of the game.

Rocket’s strikes-to-balls ratio could have been better but he worked hard when he was in trouble and the players behind him made the plays when it counted. Taking action is more important than giving notice.

The youngest player on the team was Derek. Alex didn’t like it but Derek was taking his place at the plate. He rewarded the coach’s decision with a strike out. Teddy hit a low shot to center field for a single but tried unsuccessful for a double. When he reached the bag the ball was there waiting on him for out number two. Lajuane walked and stole second as Marty was being pitched around. While Jimmy was looking for another hit, the two base runners stole another base. With second and third occupied, Jimmy recorded his first strike out of the game.To Rockvale’s credit, they were not through. They did not want to quit. Their first batter walked.

“Come on Rocket,” or something on that order is probably what Coach was thinking. The next batter gave the defense a chance to take charge of the game, or so it seemed. Rocket got ahead of himself and served Chris Burns a nice juicy pitch that he put over the fence. The next batter grounded out to the first baseman.

The two batters at the bottom part of the batting order both walked after Rocket pitched to a full count.

With any age group a coach is almost never secure with whatever lead his team has. Have confidence in your players because fear can make the wolf larger.

Heads, tails, same coin. How could a pitcher be so erratic and still throw three strikes in a row? The important thing is that he did and that stopped the inning with Rockvale scoring two runs.

Because these games have a time limit, all we had to do was keep batters going to the plate. Rocket led off with a triple. Darrell walked and stole second while Owen was at the plate. After drawing a walk on four pitches and loading the bases, the umpire called the game on time.

The defense played well. In fact, Coach had every confidence in what they could do.

Will experience be our friend or our foe?

Coach believed that this group of boys would get better as they learned to depend and trust each other. Time would tell. 

Rockvale 2, Nolensville Red 14.

Every Coach’s Dream, A True Story about Dixie Youth Baseball in Three Small Towns, by Harold A Brown

Chapter 4: League Game One – Nolensville Blue

The challenge for him came from within.

The first league game of the season was a repeat of the second game in the jamboree. The big difference was the starting pitcher for Nolensville Blue. 

Nunn Arledge: Nunn Arledge had potential. Often the worst thing a person can say about another is that they have potential. Well, maybe it depends on when and how it is suggested. If you have a player on your team and that is the only good thing that comes to mind, that could indicate something negative. Nunn Arledge was not like that. He had skill and desire. It was all there for the development. Confidence, control, consistency, the three things needed for a good pitcher. Nunn’s coach and his father would help him in all three of those areas. Nunn was pitching for Nolensville Blue, the home team.

Nolensville Red was going to start Marty, a left hander, as the visiting team. It was a Monday night and the game was scheduled under the lights.

Lajuane started the top of the first inning with a walk on five pitches. Marty took the first pitch over the infield and into the gap in left center field. Michael Howell was the left fielder and also possessed the weakest arm of their three outfielders. Lajuane and Marty had speed to burn, and by the time the ball got back to the infield, Marty had a RBI to go with his double.

Jimmy helped Nunn out by taking the first pitch for a strike and fouling the second. The third pitch was more than Jimmy could handle. Nunn had his first of eight strikeouts for the evening. Rocket made him work harder and in the process allowed Marty to steal third and home.

Darrell wanted to be a base runner and showed less patience at the plate. He was on his way to striking out three of his four trips to the plate. He was a delight as a player, working just as hard in practice as he did in games. Marty was blessed with good defense in the bottom of the first. He walked the first two batters but the lead runner broke that unwritten rule of baseball by making the first out at third when Owen, the catcher, threw him out. The catcher’s job is to work with the pitcher and throw out runners that show little to no respect for your throwing ability. Owen was earning their respect with each throw that he made.

Their third hitter stroked a nice single to right field but didn’t take into account Teddy’s bullet arm. He made the second out trying to squeeze that single into a double.

Their clean up hitter walked and Coach made a pitching change. Jimmy went to the mound and finished the inning by striking out their pitcher. When Jimmy was good, he was fun to watch. The score was two runs for the Red team and one for the Blue team.

Owen led off the top of the second inning. With the count full he missed the final pitch for out number one.

Frank Ogilvie: Frank had never played organized baseball before but had the strength and speed to play. 

With a full count Frank’s sixth pitch was a ball four. He stole second base after Alex’s second pitch. The runner isn’t allowed to leave the base until the pitched ball reaches the front of the plate. Frank was alert and made the plays that he was suppose to make. It was clear that what Frank lacked in baseball experience he made up in intelligence. 

Alex walked on five pitches. Teddy was the number nine hitter in the line up. He would become a better hitter but wasn’t there yet. Frank and Alex were both able to pick up bases before Teddy tipped a third strike back to the catcher for out number two. Lajuane was up next with two outs and two runners on base. He got one of his rare hits that trickled down the thirdbase line so slow that it didn’t allow the other runners an opportunity to score. Marty drove the ball to second on his second pitch but Brian Cummings, their second baseman, was able to make the throw to first before Marty could get there for out number three. No runs scored and two runners were left on base. The Red team’s only inning of the game without a score.

Jimmy struck out the first two batters in the bottom of the second and walked Benjamin Holt, a player who was about two feet tall, on six pitches. He then struck out the next batter on three pitches to end the inning.

Jimmy Johnson: For Jimmy it became clear that the challenge for him came from within. He chose not to be a the best student he could be, but excelled at football, baseball and basketball.

This game was looking like a classic match between the hometown teams. The top of the third started with the score still a respectable two for the Red team and one for the Blue Nunn started the top of the third with two strikes. The only problem for him was that the first one was to Jimmy for a double and the second was a RBI triple to Rocket. Their catcher did a good job of keeping the ball in front of him and Rocket was not allowed to steal home while Nunn got the next three batters on strikes.

Lou Ray Grimes started the bottom of the third with a single for the Blue team and then stole second base. A base runner often thinks, and is usually correct, that a catcher’s throw back to the pitcher will give them an opening to steal the next base. With no outs, Lou Ray decided not to make his break on the return pitch back to the mound. Owen wouldn’t give Lou Ray an opening to take third. Jimmy knew that with the count two ball and two strikes, his job was to throw his best pitch. You never want to take the batter to a full count. The batter at the plate struck out on five pitches. With Lou Ray on second base the Blue team sent up their most productive batter. Chris Wince hit the second pitch back to Jimmy on the mound. He showed everyone that he knew what the game was about and got the lead runner at third because he broke for the bag without thinking. He should have stayed on the bag until Jimmy committed the throw to first. Chris was safe at first on a fielder’s choice. Instead of having a runner on third with two out they now had a runner on first with two outs. 

Stealing bases at this age is just a matter of patience and understanding of the technique. When the pitched ball reaches the front of the plate the runner takes his three step lead toward the next base. If there is a dropped or passed ball then he goes. Chris made his break and stole second. Jimmy, for the second time that inning, got the batter on five pitches. 

Jimmy’s Grandfather: Jimmy’s grandfather attended almost all of his games. He was such a humble man and a joy to talk to. He would take his place somewhere around the field and make mental notes about what was good and what was bad about how the game was played. When his grandfather died three years later there was a huge void in Jimmy’s life. Coach’s too.

Often one success leads to another. Derek, the youngest and smallest player on the team, was taking Alex’s place in the batting order. He had all the tools a ball player needed. He was also afraid of making a mistake and hurting his team. Coach hated to see batters get hit by a pitched ball. Maybe it was because at that age he had experienced more than his share of free bases because of that. Derek got hit. Nunn threw hard so Coach knew it hurt. Derek stole second and Teddy got a RBI single. Lajuane had a rare strike out but not before the sixth pitch. Teddy stole second during Lajuane’s at bat and Marty got a RBI single on his first pitch. Jimmy got a single and Rocket walked as did Darrell. With the bases loaded Owen hit a shot into the outfield that scored two runs and left two runners on base.

Brad Alexander struck out and Derek walked. He was on base for the second time this inning. Teddy was on a streak. His second time at the plate found the bases loaded and ripe for the picking. The number nine hitter was in his groove. The second good pitch he saw was lined to the fence. Three runs scored and Teddy was on his way to breaking that rule about making the first or third out at third base. The throw just beat him to third base and that ended the top of the fourth inning. Eleven runners went to the plate and scored eight runs. The youngest and smallest scored two of those.

Jimmy was tired and Coach let him walk the first two batters before he replaced him with the little lefty, Darrell Skinner. With the first two runners already on base, Darrell struck out his first batter. Holt, his second batter, got his bat on the ball and drove in one of the base runners but got thrown out at third because of his greed. The next batter walked. Darrell was getting over his nerves and started depending on his team’s defense. Lou Ray got the final RBI of the inning on a triple but got thrown out at home on a relay from the first baseman, Jimmy, to the catcher. Darrell got the team out of the inning but not before they scored three runs.

At this age a time limit is placed on the games, six innings or one hour and forty-five minutes, which ever comes first. The time limit was checked at the bottom of an inning, the moment the third out was made. If the clock showed a second was left, you had to start another inning. Time could be a friend or foe.

Nunn was through for the evening. Holt would take his place and give the first batter, Lajuane, a base on balls. He stole second. Marty moved him to third on a ground ball to first. With one out and one on, Jimmy had a RBI single and Rocket had a sacrifice to move Jimmy to second base. With two outs, Darrell, the pitcher struck out.

The bottom of the fifth was twelve Red and four Blue. Darrell proved to be best under pressure. He knew that with an eight run lead, all he had to do was throw strikes and let the players behind him make plays. His first pitch was sent back to the shortstop and he made the throw to first for the first out. Darrell got the next batter on three pitches. Nunn, the starting pitcher, hit to Marty at second and he got the assist with a good throw to first for the final out. Success is based on backbone not wishbone.

The team would see Nunn often during the season and that probably made them better. He was a big strong boy that just needed to work on his concentration, control, and confidence. Train to succeed, practice for success.

The real challenge comes from within. How many different ways can it be said? 

Nolensville Red twelve, Nolensville Blue four.

Every Coach’s Dream, A True Story about Dixie Youth Baseball in Three Small Towns, by Harold A Brown

Chapter 3: Annual Jamboree – Game Two – Nolensville Blue

Life and dreams do not exist apart.

The second game of the jamboree put the two wining teams together. The Red team would see Nolensville Blue’s number two pitcher and there was no fear. Benjamin Holt was a gamer but he was small and had a nice easy pitch that only excited good hitters. Even Lajuane unleashed his stick.

Jimmy struck out four of the first five batters he faced. He was a big happy kid that loved playing ball. His size scared players that didn’t know him. 

Jimmy Johnson: Jimmy started playing for Coach when he was nine years old. It soon became clear that he knew how to pitch and was the only one that was dependable that first year. He started four and won four as a nine year old. The fourth win was in the tournament at the end of the season. The last place team, Nolensville Red, played the league champion, a Bethesda team coached by Don Calvert, in the first game. Coach put Jimmy on the mound and the Bethesda team started a good pitcher, but he wasn’t their best. Jimmy won the game and sent the Bethesda coach home very unhappy. 

Jimmy gave up one run in the second inning. It was the only run the other team would score. His team would score eight runs in the first inning and ten in the third. The Jamboree game, because of time, were only scheduled for four innings at the most.

Darrell would pitch the third and fourth innings and recorded five strikeouts without giving up any runs. The best part of his two innings was the fact that he only walked one batter. Darrell played big but didn’t frighten anyone. 

Darrell Skinner: Darrell played for Coach again when he was fifteen and was easily the best fielding player in a league that produced one of the top teams in the Dixie Boys World Series. The World Series took all the state champions and let them play for the championship.

The jamboree was good for the Red team. They knew they had something special, not in an arrogant way but in a silent strength sort of way. Parents didn’t come to practice but could be expected to attend games. They were not a soft spoken group, George Jones, Marty’s father, let officials know if things appeared less than correct. Marty’s older brothers all played ball. His oldest brother was the quarterback for Page High School. George wanted and expected to win.

Life and dreams do not exist apart.

Nolensville Blue 1, Nolensville Red 18