Donnellson Presbyterian Church

"I call you by your name...though you do not know me." Is. 45:4

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Fast Pitch Softball County Church Leagues Remember Hoppy Field

Posted by donnellsonpresbyterian on April 14, 2012 at 2:35 PM

This Story plus Photo from a newspaper clipping comes from Mr Bill Ferguson and is copied here with his permission.

In Commemoration of the 83rd Anniversary of the Birth of my Late Father, Donald Cary Ferguson

Each year when my church league softball season starts in Champaign I climb into a time machine and after a few minutes my dad is there with me. It’s a hot summer night in the 1970’s and we are standing together at Hoppy’s Field near Reno. (Mom, Kathy, Donna and Karen must be home enjoying a rare night without “the boys”.) My dad is telling me a joke about a three-legged pig. On this night the Presby team is playing against the Dolls. (Later the Dolls and Fergusons would form the basis of one of my favorite teams of all time. Part of that later team is pictured after we won the league championship.) Stan and Henry (Matt) arrive in the famous Banana car after playing in Muni Band in Greenville. And then my brother Tom (maybe the best player from our family, sorry Donna) arrives with Dave Doll and Ed Hagler. My dad jokes with Tom about which team he is going to play for. I warm up with my dad and the rest of the team. Maybe I’ll get to play tonight if the score isn’t close or a few players don’t show up. Earl Hopkins is going to pitch for us even though he’s maybe 65 years old and this is fast pitch softball. Our ball gloves haven’t yet burned up in Cindy Gum’s car and I’m thinking this might be the night I make a great catch. (I’m still using one of the gloves this season from the mid-1970’s that we bought to replace the gloves lost in the flames.)

The game is progressing nicely when I hear the roar of a Harley and look up the road next to the field. It’s my brother John making a rare appearance at a game. After an inning or two my dad puts John in to pinch hit and he clobbers a screaming line drive over Kork Doll and into the corn for a home run. (Yes, there was corn on the other side of the fence at Hoppy’s Field long before Field of Dreams.) Now it’s the last inning and my dad relieves Earl on the pitcher’s mound and I take right field. All five brothers and their proud dad are now in the game at the same time. My brain jumps ahead about 30 years to a Champaign Church League game when my sons Donnie and Alex and I are all on base at the same time. And then another game sneaks into my mind. Tom’s oldest daughter Joni is playing on my Champaign team. I hit the ball well, but stumble out of the batter’s box and fall to my knees. A hush comes over the field, only to be broken by Joni yelling, “Get up and run.” After all, it was her dad Tom who taught me how to play hard and compete. Then back again I go to the 70’s where a towering fly ball is sailing in my direction. I make my way past the tires encircling a light pole, but the ball never comes down... Then my dad and I are sharing popcorn, a bottle of Pepsi and M&M’s as our team trades stories with the Dolls about the game that had just ended. Soon John is back on his Harley. Tom and his buddies are off to late night bowling and “bird watching”. Stan and Henry (Matt) cruise off in the Banana and I climb back into the time machine with my dad. He’s going to talk with me during my first game again this season. If we lose maybe he’ll tell me the joke about the three-legged pig.

Donald Cary Ferguson - April 12, 1929 - March 31, 2000

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