Articles & Stories

Baseball Was A Favored Sport

In The Mountains of Eastern KY

Coal Companies Sponsored Local Coal Camp Teams

Editor's Note: In the 1930s-1950s in Eastern Kentucky, baseball was the sport enjoyed by most everyone. Edith Skjoldager found, while looking through scrapbooks that belonged to her father, Ambrose Deaton, and her sister, Opsie Deaton Combs, several treasured photos and newspaper clippings that she would like to share with Kentucky Explorer readers.
During the time these photos were taken, coal companies in Eastern Kentucky sponsored baseball teams in the coal camps. Games were usually played on Sundays, for this was the only day of the week the miners didn't work.
Edith does not have identifications for all the photos, but feels readers will enjoy looking at them and might identify a long lost relative.

Carrs Fork Coal Co. Baseball Team

1941 roster of the Carr Fork Baseball Team: Virgil Deaton (pitcher), Jake Lowe (pitch-er), Damon Moore, Starr Stacy, Bum Daniels, Joe Smith, Burley McConnell, Ambrose Deaton (catcher), Paul Weisbrodt, Frank Plummer, Jasper Combs, Jennings Shelton, Clyde McConnell, Howard Barlett, and Slick Hayes (manager). The team was sponsored by the Carrs Fork Coal Company.

Ambrose Deaton umpires a game for Hyden, Leslie County, Kentucky. Note the log structure in the background. The locality of the game is unknown.

Strikeout King May Start For Perry Team

Author Unknown - 1943

Many local baseball fans are looking for an upset victory by Carr's Fork, a Perry County team, in their fight for the Eastern Kentucky championship with the team from the southern border of the state, Pruden, Tennessee.
Carrs Fork is admittedly the underdog, but they were "right" in the district tourney and Manager Boggs "Slick" Hayes was more optimistic than any of the fans when he looked over his team in practice.
Batteries will either be Frank Plummer and Jake Lowe or Ambrose Deaton and Virgil Deaton. Lowe who is 23, struck out 31 batters in two games last week and can be considered well nigh unbeatable if he is in form, but as one of his former managers said, "Jake is either the world's best or the worst. He has no middle form." Jake struck out 97 opposing batters in his first five games this year (1943). Virgil Deaton, who has a consistent record, may get the nod over Lowe, and if he does 52-year-old Ambrose Deaton will be on the receiving end; however, Ambrose's age doesn't seem to affect either his playing ability or his voice.
Ambrose Deaton, Carrs Fork catcher and Gaily Collins, Blue Grass outfielder, both past 50, have each vowed they will not quit playing ball until the other retires, and it looks like they both mean it; as each played regularly this year and made better showings than many of their younger teammates.
Manager Hayes is placing a lot of his optimism on the record of his two leading batters, Jap Combs and Bum Daniels. Both are well above the 350 mark and are dangerous hitters.
Lineup was announced by Manager Hayes, with the exception of the battery for the next game in their batting order as follows:
Bum Daniels, 3rd base; J. Combs right field; McConnel, left field; Jap Combs, first base; B. McConnell, center field; Joe Smith, shortstop; and Trubbey Hall, second base.

Deaton Tosses Carrs Fork To 8-2 Victory

Author Unknown - 1944

Virgil Deaton, stellar Carrs Fork, Perry County, Kentucky, pitcher, whose teammates declare is the best in either of the local leagues, rang up another victory allowing Hindman, Knott County, seven hits while easily winning 8-2.
Ambrose Deaton, veteran catcher for the Carrs Forkers keeps the team enthused with his pepper talk and is given much of the credit for their success.
Carrs Fork connected six hits off two Hindman pitchers, Music and Combs. Deaton struck out five, Music five, and Combs four.
Kenmont Protests
Kenmont seemed on its way to an easy win over Tribbey's (Perry County), strikeout king, Jake Lowe, as they held 9-1 in the fourth inning, but Tribbey ran in four more to bring it to 9-5. Then when another runner attempted to score and was called safe by chief umpire Albert McAfee, an argument started which wound up with McAfee awarding the game to Tribbey (9-0). Kenmont, will protest, according to James Ellington. Athol Cox, on the mound for Kenmont, had struck out nine while Lowe had five to his credit when the game ended.
Leatherwood Wins
Leatherwood, Perry County, defeated Combs, Perry County, 3-0 as Shelby Jones allowed only five hits while his teammates were collecting seven off Damon Moore, although Moore struck out 14 batters to seven for Jones.
Darfork defeated Hardburly (both Perry County teams) 2-1 at Hardburly as Barker won a pitcher's duel over Sap Barnett, despite the fact Hardburly loaded the bases in five of the nine innings.
Allais had no trouble at all in downing Bowlingtown (both Perry County teams) 15-1 in a game which saw four home runs hit by C. Begley of Bowlingtown, and Carl Goins and Fraley and John C. Bowling of Allais.
Blue Grass defeated Blue Diamond (both Perry County teams) 14-8, outhitting them 10 to five. Jackson had nine strikeouts. Jack Shelton had four hits for five. Williams of Blue Diamond got three hits out of five times at bat.

Kenmont Loses First
Game Of The Season To Tribbey

Author Unknown - ca. 1943

Kenmont (Perry County) lost its first baseball game of the season when they were tripped up by Tribbey (Perry County teams) 7-5, this despite the fact that Athol Cox homered with the bases full and shared pitching duties with James Smith, who was charged with the loss.
Kenmont committed eight errors, four more than Tribbey and got only three hits off Lowe while Tribbey collected nine.
Tribbey took the lead in the first inning with a four-run barrage and were never headed.
Carr Fork took the measure of Hindman by 9-2 on 13 hits and held the Knott Countians scoreless until the ninth. Wesibrodt of Carr Fork homered in the ninth.
Ambrose Deaton and Virgil Deaton were the battery for Carr Fork while Watkins caught for Hindman and Corbina and Lyons divided the pitching duties.

Edith Deaton Skjoldager, P. O. Box 7, Okeana, OH 45053, shares these articles and photos with our readers. If anyone can identify anyone in the photos feel free to contact Edith or send the information to The Kentucky Explorer, P. O. Box 227, Jackson, KY 41339; [email protected]

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