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But he had Tin Man’s heart


The year was 1966. I was playing Legion ball for Bonners Ferry as a seventh- grader because we did not have enough players. I was hanging around practice, knowing my day would come because of our shortage of players.

Sure enough, we headed to Creston, British Columbia. In Creston at that time, you could play Legion until you were 19 or 20. We were facing Creston’s ace, Russ Nichols. So here I am batting against Nichols as a seventh-grader and he was 19.

He threw me a curveball right at my ear and I hit the dirt quaking like the lion in the “Wizard of Oz.” The umpire yelled strike and I was still shaking. The umpire, much like the great and powerful Oz, said, “Get up, you shaking bag of bones.”

That was my introduction to Legion ball.

One good thing: Because of the shortage of players, they let our coach, John Whelling, play. He played in the Dodgers’ organization at one time as a catcher. He was a lot better match for Nichols, because I remember John hitting one deep into the parking lot for a home run.