I was ten years old and in the fourth grade at Franklin Elementary on Hogpath road. This was May of 1958 and it had just gotten warm enough on this late May spring day that mom had gotten out the lighter spring, shorts and short sleeved shirts and put away boots and heavy coats.
This was the last day of school and all classwork had been turned in, math problems completed, history read, reading done and grades given out. Most weregoing to a new class the next year but a few were being held back and everyone knew that, too.
For excitement and recreation a softball game had been set on that afternoon between the Franklin and butler sixth grade classes and lunch finished all students assembledaround the field located on the east side of the schoolyard. Yellow school buses arrived with Butler players and students.
The junior high basketball coach coached the Franklin team and they were ready on the bench on their side of the field with Butler on the opposite side.
I watched with rapt attention as the scene unfolded as this was more people than I had ever seen on the schoolyard before. I knew who the sixth graders were. They werethe “big kids” in their last year beforegoing to junior high. They were bigger physically and won running, wrestling or sports of any kindagainst my class. But mostly they ignored us 4th graders, as it was not neat to have anything to do with the “the little kids”
My eyes got big as I watched the game start. The schoolyard games at recess and lunch were all I ever played in but this was a real game. The blue sky became lighter, the brown dirt on the field smoother and more richly colored and chalked foul lines running down the edges of the field more white outlining the field of play.
With my friends I found a place along the Franklin side of the field which was the north side of the playing field along the right field foul line and the game began. Each team batted, a few players walked; there were a few hits, errors made and going into the last of the sixth and last inning, the score was tied at 2-2 with Franklin up.
With one out, Jimmy, a somewhat big for his age boy, stepped to bat. Light haired with a crew cut and freckles he was one the biggest kids in his class and was strong from farm work, wore a white T shirt, blue jeans and tennis shoes. He batted left handed. The right fielder moved more towards the right fieldfoul line.
He took the first pitch for a ball but the second pitch was out over the plate and high enough that Jerry could see it perfectly. Starting with his hands and wrists, he began the swing and then put his arms, shoulders and everything he had into it.
He felt the ball hit the sweet part of the bat, connect perfectly against the bat out in front of the plate.
The ball rose on a fly and continued rising over the righthielder’s head finally landing and rolling up on the gravel parking lot around the school building. As the right fielder chased the ball, the second baseman came out for the relay but Jimmy was already rounding third and scored standing up with the ball still in the second baseman’s hands. The game was over Franklin had won 3-2.
Jimmy was mobbed, pulled to the ground, pummeled by his teammates, in this his moment of glory. He would probably never have another moment like that for the rest of his life as he jubilantly laughed and smiled.
I was impressed or rather imprinted by the game as I had watched it unfold. The crowd dispersed; I boarded my bus and went home to end that school year in 1958 but I wouldn’t forget the ball coming off the bat and Jimmy rounding the bases and going towards home and wouldn’t forget that last day of school.
Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for the Daily Advocate