Valley League Memories written by Gene Davis
Thanks so much to Gene Davis for taking the time to write this up.
A VBL memoir
Written by Gene Davis
"Growing up in Elkton, but having been born too late to
see the Elkton Blue Sox play in the league, I attended
as many of the Shenandoah Indians games as I could in
My only recollection of the Elkton entry, was driving
past the dilapidated and decaying remains of what had
once been the grandstand. If memory serves, the
Elkton Volunteer Fire Department is now located on that
Shenandoah manager was Larry Dofflemyer. Head coach at
Page County High School.
In the pre-college players only days, most teams had a
local player or two.
It helped at the gate, and since there was no DH, teams
needed someone who could pinch hit and be happy in that
role. The man at Shenandoah was Preston Douglas.
Preston was an affable fellow with graying hair and a
handlebar mustache. He was always very kind to the
kids and a favorite of mine.
The other player I remember from the Indians was Otis
Foster. A player who would bring to mind images of a
right-handed batting David Ortiz. In fact, I think
Otis was drafted by the Red Sox, but to my knowledge,
never made it to the major leagues.
Otis took full advantage of the unique layout of the
ballpark in Shenandoah. Like most small town ballparks
of the time the playing field was laid out to utilize
the land available. This resulted in the rather unusual
configuration of 275' left field line, about 340' right
field line, and center was in excess of 450'. A lot of
the old timers swore it was 500', but I don't recall
there being any distance signs in center field.
The grandstand was vintage small town ball park. It was
a covered wooden structure with wooden seating, built in
the late 1940's. A screen covered the entire front. A
wooden fence, about 10'-12' surrounded the outfield.
There were also uncovered bleachers down the first base
line, which dated to the days of segregation, when non-
white patrons were not allowed to sit in the grandstand.
The "dugouts" we a part of the grandstand and located
beneath the seats on the first and third base lines.
Another unusual feature was the location of home plate.
The was barely enough room behind the plate for the
catcher and umpire to operate. There was less than 15'
to the backstop. Rarely was there a wild pitch or
passed ball at Indians home games. Left field also
featured a manual scoreboard. Many of the numbers
had been lost over the years, and during low scoring
games, zeros posted in the early innings had to be
relocated to keep fans apprised of the current
inning. Different color lights indicated balls,
strikes, and outs. A bright white light flashed to
indicate an error. The entire structure was
painted a dark green, and by the end of the Indians
run in the league, it had become rather run-down,
but in its day, it was a source of pride for the
local residents. It was also used by Page County
High School and the Elkton American Legion team.
It was no doubt one of the great thrills of my
brief and unremarkable baseball career to play on
the same field where so many of my childhood
heroes had played. Sadly, the ballpark fell
victim to arson and nothing remains of the
original structure, although there is a ball field
at the location, the grand old lady is gone forever.
Attendance was always sparse, Shenandoah was, and
still is, much smaller than most of the other
Valley League towns. The only way they paid the
bills each year was from sponsorship dollars. The
primary sponsor was the local car dealer, Batman
Pontiac. Mr. Batman was a huge baseball fan, and
the general consensus was he pretty much kept the
team afloat. The uniforms featured "Batman Pontiac"
on the back. I have often wondered how the Valley
Leaguers of today would react to the facilities and
being walking advertisements for a car dealership.
There is one other special memory I have of the
Indians. In the old days, players were not limited
to those with college eligibility. There was one
player, Fred Talbot, who had bounced around the majors
as a pitcher for a number of years. I even had a
baseball card of his when he played with the Oakland
A's. For some reason he ended up in Shenandoah for a
part of one summer. It was quite a thrill when I was
able to have him sign that card."
We at ATV-60 would like to thank Gene Davis for taking the time to share his memories of the Valley League's past and we hope you enjoyed reading about it! We encourage anyone out there reading to jot down a few notes about their relationship with or memories of the VBL.
-Ace and Pops
-Ace and Pops