Natchez set standard for Dixie Youth

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 27, 2000

Dixie Youth Baseball is big, big in the city of Natchez. But in the state of Mississippi, our town’s DYB roots are historic. It all started in the state back in 1950, you see. Natchez is the home of Dixie Youth Baseball in Mississippi!

It was Little League when Mr. Bill Carroll and Mr. Newt Jones hopped on the idea that came to them after reading about LL&160;founder Carl Stotz’s blossoming boy’s 10-12 program nationwide in May, 1949. Lester Browning jumped in with Carroll and Jones – all three of whom are now deceased -&160;and history was made in Mississippi.

Now-a-days, the former Little League-now-Dixie Youth Baseball is played all over Natchez, with this time of the year being All-Star time. Seems like our town also has had teams playing all over the state. It’s the exciting time of the post-season, whether some of them bring home the bacon or not.

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Dr. Thomas H. Gandy snapped a picture of would-be Little League organizers and players in 1949 that has appeared in The Natchez Democrat on several occasions.

Jones and Carroll were pictured against an imposing background that had bulldozer operator Joe Furr on his dozier, and future Natchez Little Leaguers Dickie Walcott, Little Rex Rexinger, Holty Warren, Will Warren (cousins), Howard McGehee and Cliff Weeks, plus C.L. Caston standing in front. I had the pleasure of writing about that historic beginning. Again.

Although Natchez had the only certified team in the state in 1950, Clarksdale had started late in the ’50 season, and played the Natchez All-Stars in the post-season. Natchez was strong, and advanced with a win that wasn’t necessary to move on.

O.C. Montgomery and Phil Gousset successfully managed that first Natchez All-Star team that included players like Holty Warren (who sported a .600 batting average), Cliff Weeks, Donald Harrison, Donald Brown, Sammy Eidt, Bobby White, Frank Byrne, Chick Graning,&160;Butch Kempinska, Jackie Poole, 10-year-old catcher Arthur Eidt, Fritz Trippe, Bobby Campbell, Billy Fred Edmonson and Mel Queen.

The 1950 Natchez Little All-Stars jumped all over Jeffersonville, Ind., in the pre-World Series tournament at Norwood, Ohio after winning two earlier games that put them in that position in Milan, Tenn.

Edmonson was injured on the mound in a crucial game at Norwood (Billy Fred left the field in an ambulance), just one victory short of making the LL World Series … Fifty historic years!

Natchezians are as proud of that team now as they were then. And proud of every DYB All-Star team since, including this year.

HURRIED&160;HASH:&160;&uot;Fighting Five&uot;&160;member, be reminded that this year’s 1927-61 NHS reunion will be held Aug. 4-5 at the Natchez Shrine Club. From Secretary Barbara McKinley down to this lowly member, this is to call attention … NHS’ World War II classes of 1941-45 are prime sponsors of the big nights, and this is to remind of the new Reunion location this year. Former teachers will be honored, and the class of 1950 will be celebrating their 50th anniversary.

…Al Strickland was a true buddy of mine. Al died last week, and I’m not the only one (not by a long shot) that’ll miss the one-time outstanding Natchez Democrat Outdoors Writer who wrote all sports as well … I used to love to hear Al tell about his Wild Boar (hog) hunts with the renowned Jughead Jones over in Concordia Parish and around. He told some of the funniest things that happened . Most of all, Al Strickland was just an all-around great guy.

Glenvall Estes is sports columnist for The Natchez Democrat.