Jim Jewell: A (little) league of my own

Out here in the Southwest corner, hard copies of The Democrat don’t arrive until five days or later.
Jul 15, 2014


Out here in the Southwest corner, hard copies of The Democrat don’t arrive until five days or later.

I keep up with Lebanon events through The Democrat’s daily email. Admittedly, it is not a thorough read, but I scan for possible ideas for a column. Speaking of buried, I also am at the age where checking obituaries becomes a habit.

Last Wednesday, the email included a photo of a little league second baseman successfully diving to stop a ball from going into the outfield. But that was not what caught my attention. The name on the back of the gold jersey over the number 7 was “Jewell.”

I smiled.

The Kiwanis Club sponsored Lebanon’s Little League debut in 1955. My team that inaugural year was Nokes Sports. Mr. Nokes had a sporting goods store at the top of East Main Street. He was a wonderful supporter of all of the athletic endeavors in Lebanon. Our team was good, but not as good as Lebanon Bank. 

Jake Jewell’s photo brought back a flood of memories for me.

One treasure I brought back to the Southwest corner on my last visit was a photo in a file my mother kept of my history as she did for her other two children and all of her grandchildren. The treasure was a photo of that original Nokes Sports Little League team. Sadly, although I remembered the faces, I could not recall all the names. 

Since my mother and father were my primary resource for history, names, and places of Lebanon, and now they are off to other things. Realizing the wonderful Facebook page “If you grew up in Lebanon you remember…” might provide some names, I posted the photo and asked for help. So with a little help from my friends, here’s my best guess:

Front row: James Manning (my guess), Winfree Jewell (2) (Bc Yahola’s guess), Frank Schlink (3); second row: Randall Ligon (14) (Sara Yahola’s guess); third row: Henry Harding (8), George Summers (5), Jim Jewell (10), Eddie Taylor (11) (although Joy Wahl thinks he looks like John Couch). The coach on the left is Jim “Moon” Andrews (Wyona Midgett Harwell and Annette Manning-Keffer filled in my blank mind as all I could remember was “Moon.”

I’m not sure there has been a happier time in my life than playing Little League baseball at Baird Park. I know got a few hits, mostly to right field. I remember yelling constantly from center field. I do remember how much fun it was and how great Moon and the other coach was to the players.

Looking at Jake Jewell sprawled on the infield, I also remember the only time I announced a ball game. It was the summer of 1967 and Clyde Harwell, the WCOR sports announcer had another assignment. So Jack Hendrickson, Coleman Walker, and Clyde decided I could cover the Little League playoffs with Lebanon traveling to Donelson.

My father drove us to the field and I plugged in my sound equipment as instructed. As the game began, mist to light rain began to fall. My pencil soon proved useless on the damp scorecard. I floundered. Unable to keep score, I was guessing throughout, probably only getting the players names right. Lebanon was getting beat badly. It was much worse than the 14-4 defeat Lebanon suffered at Gallatin last Wednesday. Donelson was on its way to 15 runs in the third inning when my father came up to the broadcast bench and notified me I was not on the air. He had gone back to the car to listen on the radio and found music and apologies. Apparently, I had plugged my equipment into the wrong outlet.

He said, “Why don’t we go home.” I readily agreed.

To put a perfect end to a miserable evening, we arrived at the car to find that a foul ball had hit the hood of his new car leaving a dent. Yes, it was the size of a baseball.

I hope to find out if Jake Jewell and his parents are kin to my family. There are only so many Jewells in the area. If I locate those Jewells, I will tell them their son has great form and how he generated good memories and a laugh about my Little League experiences.

Jim Jewell, a retired Navy commander lives in San Diego but was raised in Lebanon. His book, A Pocket of Resistance: Selected Poems, is now available through Author House, Amazon and Barnes and Noble online. Jim’s email is jim@jimjewwell.com.


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