Fortenbery didn’t listen to Yogi Berra

Published 12:12am Friday, January 25, 2013

It is a good thing that Natchez alderman Mark Fortenbery was not sitting in the Cleveland Indians’ dugout back in August 2001.

Up against the best team in the majors that year, the Indians were facing odds that only two teams in major league history had surmounted. In the seventh inning, the scoreboard showed their team down 14-2.

One more loss would sink their home record below .500, and rumors were already circulating that team manager Charlie Manuel’s head was already on the chopping block.

Only two teams had ever overcome a 12-run deficit to win. The Philadelphia Athletics did it in 1925 and the Detriot Tigers did it 1911.

No would have blamed the Indians if they had packed up their bats and set their sights on the next game or maybe even the next season.

That is what aldermen Fortenbery suggested Natchez-Adams County Recreation Commission Members do Tuesday night when he recommended that the commission dissolve.

After meeting monthly for the last four years — after county residents voted overwhelmingly for a recreation complex in a non-binding referendum — the score looks about as bleak today for city-county recreation as that 14-2 game for Cleveland back in 2001.

Despite voters desires, officials from both the city and the county have “sat idle, doing nothing,” according to Fortenbery, who is the city’s recreation committee chairperson.

Recreation commission member Tate Hobdy came to the board Tuesday to discuss the possibility of hiring a joint city-county recreation director. It was the commission’s way of moving forward instead of spinning its wheels.

If the city and county cannot act soon and with the prospect that nothing will ever get done, Fortenbery suggested the commission give up and hit the showers.

Manager Manuel must have felt the same way in 2001 when he pulled his all-stars thinking the game had already gotten out of hand.

Indeed, there may have been a few Mark Fortenbery’s in some of the team standing in the Cleveland dugout 12 years ago.

But he wasn’t in first baseman Jim Thome, who hit two home runs that night. He wasn’t in Marty Cordova and Russell Branyan who both had homers of their own that helped pull the Indians within 14-9 after eight innings.

You wouldn’t have detected a speck of Fortenbery’s give-it-up attitude in Omar Vizquel, who hit a triple that cleared the bases and tied the game at 14 in the ninth.

No one would have mistaken Kenny Loftin for the Natchez alderman when he slid headfirst into home plate and propelled the Indians into the record book.

When the game concluded, some 20,000 Cleveland fans danced into the night. The newspapers called it one of the wildest wins in Cleveland’s history. The Seattle Mariners called it a fluke.

No matter what it was called, Yogi Berra was proved right once again that night.

Mayor Butch Brown suggested Tuesday night that unless the county “steps up and does something” maybe the commission should scale back its meeting schedule to once a quarter instead of once a month. Maybe so.

But for all of those local fans who voted for recreation in 2008, for all of the parents — including myself — who want their kids to learn those valuable lessons that can only be learned on the ball field, now is not the time to quit.

There are innings left to play.

Just ask the Cleveland Indians.


Ben Hillyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at

  • Dub Rogers

    “It ain’t over ’til it’s over!”

  • Anonymous

    She might not be singing just yet…but…the fat lady is sure humming a tune…

  • Anonymous

    The rec comission needs to learn this take-off of an old phrase- “If at first you don’t succeed, try again. And then stop. There is no sense being a damn fool about it.”
    Even when I was a kid in the 60′s there was “great news that the ‘bean field’ was gonna be a huge recreation complex”. I see where that got us.
    Time to drop it, ’cause now they’re being a damn fool about it.
    Just like consolodation of city/county; folks have wanted it for years. I say, if they TRULY wanted it, they would have made it happen.
    Give it up.

  • khakirat

    Even Yogy as my Mother said when the money isn’t there and the county has bigger fish to fry as that of the county fire departments is more important of saving lives and properties than a mult million dollar rec. complex that need to be feed by more monies isn’t senseable for Adams county this day and time!!! There are many ballfields in Natchez that kids to play on in fact the same fields I played on in the 50′s and 60′s and more newer ones as well!!

  • Anonymous

    You people still don’t get it. Who cares who voted “overwhelmingly” to build it? If the funds are not there to build and maintain it, why continue to even meet until you have ample budget to cover it….and that’s after you’ve got your books in order for every other function of government this county supports. And what’s up with this Hobdy guy that wants to hire someone else just to suck more wind in a room filled full of smoke. How is creating this position for an already defunct commission supposed to be a way to move forward?

    Hey, it’s still all about the Dumbocratic mantra this entire state has always hummed over and over just waiting for money to appear out of nowhere. How bout gettin’ off that meditation cushion, walking outside and take a whiff of what’s really going on in this country.

  • Anonymous

    we don’t need a recreation complex that is paid for by the taxpayors. i have not had a raise in years but with the new tax laws the president pushed now i get an extra $80 out of my check. housing values have decreased but when they reassessed my property the taxes went up. when the housing values went down did they come back reassess my property, no. the tax roles still say it is worth more than it can be sold for. personally, the school board is asking for an increase in their portion of our taxes. i have no more money to give and i don’t believe a recreation complex will be a success anyway, just a drain. the time is not right because their is not enough money to get this done.

  • Anonymous

    You got this one WRONG Ben… the over whelming vote was NOT far this. Matter of fact, the ones who voted for it, got tricked into it. It was a non binding referendum…..not really a vote to build the damned thing. If you want it, pay to build it. Us retired folks couldn’t care less and certainly don’t want our taxes raised.