August 1, 2009 10:36:00 PM
When I was about nine or 10, my uncle Duff Pilkinton, who was a dispatcher on the Columbus and Greenville Railroad, would pick me up at my grandmother''s in Artesia and take me into Columbus.
After a meal at the Bell Cafe, we would stop at the Smoke Shop, where my uncle would smoke a favorite brand of cigars while getting a shoeshine. He perched in one of the high chairs and appeared to enjoy himself immensely.
Meanwhile, I followed the line scores of major league baseball as they came in from all over the U.S.A. and were printed out by a bubble-topped ticker-tape machine, the kind I imagined found on Wall Street.
These were line scores, not box scores, plus home runs and pitcher changes. Smoke from Hav-A-Tampas settled in the shop and the teletype emitted a comforting lull until it was time to type out results from Wrigley Field or Sportsman''s Park. One of the three excellent shoeshine men was in charge of posting the scores on a schoolroom-sized blackboard with chalk.
"Somethin'' happening in St. Louis," the head man would say. "The Cardinals been out for awhile." Sure enough, when the fifth inning was finally posted, it was noted that Stan "The Man" Musial had homered with two on in the bottom of the frame and the ''Cards led 3-0.
Everyone in the South followed St. Louis back then.
Our next stop was Propst Park, where Columbus was playing Aberdeen, and where I had seen Satchel Paige pitch and heard Roy Orbison sing. But my favorite player was Jake Propst, the veteran who played the hot corner for the home team. (Am I correct in saying the park was named for his father?)
When a batter hit what Dizzy Dean of Wiggins, Mississippi, called a "Blue Darter" down the line, Jake would step right in front of it, showing no fear.
Columbus had a young pitcher named Bucky Shamberger. Many years later, by chance, I turned on the TV and there was a young man named Bucky Shamberger playing quarterback for Georgia Tech. It had to be a second generation--maybe third--happenstance.
The next day, I always related my Columbus adventures to my Artesia buddies: Brother Hill, Frank Hair, Robert Gillespie, Ray Petersen, Walter Oberst, Junior Dawkins and the rest.
Jim Synnott, Estill, S.C.