Some of the best times working in Natchez was summer baseball.

The coziness of Carroll-Jones Field and Sprague-Goussett before the addition of Ballet-Bowlin made for some memorable nights.

And then all-stars came along.

The red carpet was rolled out for tournaments.

Duncan Park was shining, and Natchez All-Star teams were made to feel like MLB all-stars.

I could sit here and cite name after name of the people who made a trip to a Dixie Youth ball game, and especially all-star tournament, but there would be a few left off because of all the people voluteering for the kids.

And there was no city politics involved.

The only politics going on may have been between coaches on who was managing the all-star team and who was making it.

But that’s everywhere.

So when I heard Natchez did not have a 9-10 or 11-12 league this year, I was as stunned as watching a Joseph Durr home run onto the golf course at Duncan Park.

Chip Sturdivant told me there was only enough for one 11-12 team, and they are playing in Vidalia. Vidalia has 33 teams in its Dixie Youth league this year.

Chip has been on a mission to revive youth baseball in Natchez. He may need some back-up from Maverick of Top Gun.

Was there any more fun besides the tournaments than the Wallace League All-Stars against the Ace Adams All-Stars for Major League bragging rights.

That’s just a shame that’s it’s been that tough a process. I remember the days of tournaments from district to regional to state where cars with painted windows of players names and numbers riding all over Natchez. And, yes, riding to restaurants, shopping places and hotels. 

Not to mention the time the Natchez All-Stars arrived at Duncan Park in a limo, which stopped at second base on Carroll-Jones Field as the boys jumped out to play some ball.

How intimidating was that?

Brandon and Doug Atkins were part of Dixie Youth teams that won state in 1991 and 1993.

My good buddy and former co-worker Jason Munz, who now writes for the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, was part of that 1991 team.

The Natchez 10-year-old all-star team won state in 1997. Jason’s brother, Jeremy Davis, was on that team, along with Chase Brown, Garrett Jones and Glenn Williams.

In 2010, Natchez’s 12-year-old all-stars won state. Terry Moffett was the coach, and Andrew Beesley, now the head baseball coach at Cathedral, was one of the top players.

In 2000, the Natchez Wallace All-Stars won state, led by Benji Maher and Timmy Foster. David New Jr., was the coach.

Foster struck out what was then a state record 16 batters in one state tournament game.

Years ago, all the talk was about a new recreation park being built by Natchez High.

Which is now Natchez High.

Aldermen trip over each other trying to find ways not to revive the baseball program in Natchez.

Fortunately in Vidalia, while recreation board members and league officials differ on opinions, everyone is invested in the reason for the league — the children.

Vidalia is hosting two tournaments this summer. Which says a lot considering the number of recreational complexes that have been built the past few years around the state.

And the softball program in Vidalia is thriving as well, with fields packed all week. 

Meanwhile, what the young girls in Natchez have to put up with is pitiful

Unfortunately in Natchez, when Play Ball is yelled out they are doing so across the river in Vidalia.

Carroll, Jones, Sprague, Goussett, Ballew and Bowlin would be heartbroken over the current situation in Natchez.

And so am I.


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