There was life before television. I know, because I was around at that time, and I remember some of the things people did to entertain themselves without a sign of a television in any home. I have been running some of these things through mi mind today , and will just discuss a few.
One thing I remember in particular was the many times I listened to sporting events on the radio, way back when I was a teenager living on an eastern Virginia tobacco farm.
My favorite team at that time was the Washington Senators, and during the summer Arch McDonald, who gave a blow by blow description of each Senator game. He had a months my brothers and I would turn on the old battery operated radio, and tune in to unique way of announcing the game, always using the little bell beside his microphone that he would strike every time there was a hit. One gong for a single, and two, three, and four gongs for extra bases.
I took the love of baseball with me when I moved to Pulaski in 1945, and had my first thrill of watching baseball played in Calfee Park by some pretty good teams from different sections of the state of Virginia. At that time Pulaski’s team was called the Pulaski Counts, and fielded such players as Billy Flint, a young first baseman from Roanoke, and Ray Rudisill, who was from North Carolina. Rudisill, an outfielder, was a good hitter, and made an impression on me with the fact that he never struck at the first pitch, and that he hit a many two base hits.
Another player on that team that impressed me was a pitcher by the name of Hatfield McCroskey, who was largely responsible for Pulaski’s great success in the Virginia League that year. I will never forget the Sunday afternoon in 1946 when McCroskey pitched and won an afternoon game, then proceeded to pitch the nightcap, winning that one, making it two victories in one day. McCroskey was a product of earlier teams of Virginia Maid and Walner Mills. T. J. Walner was a hosiery manufacturer, and a great lover of the game of baseball, and he always had talented sports figures playing on his teams. It has been said that whenever Walner interviewed a person to work in one of his mills, he always asked the question. “What position do you play?” This was probably not a factual statement, but one that emphasized his love for sports. I do think that it is because of the leadership of Mr. Walner that baseball became such a part of Pulaski.
There were other community leaders who promoted the game, including Howard Imboden, and C. R. Burgis.
In 1942 I had never seen a television, but I would never miss a baseball game at calfee Park. Now I miss many more games than I see, because old age is slowly creeping up on me, but several times each summer, I manage to hobble into Calfee Park to see baseball played like only Pulaski teams can play. The Seatle Mariners should be proud of what they have here. I’m sure that in the near future we will see talented players who have played here staring for Major League teams.
- Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski