My father played baseball for the Orleans Town Team with the likes of the Smith boys, Eidie Nickerson, Elmer Darling, and Claude Hopkins, among others, (circa 1920 or before). The Orleans team would board the morning train for P’town, play the game, and ride the late afternoon train back home to Orleans. Seems like a smooth itinerary, eh?
More often than not, however, something would happen and already frayed nerves from previous experiences would lead into a fight, and the Orleans players would have to beat a hasty retreat back down the railroad tracks, which, fortunately, passed right by the ball field, keeping just ahead of irate P’town players and townsfolks as they hurled judgmental remarks along with bone-threatening sticks and stones.
The Orleans boys would have to walk to the Truro station and catch the train home from there. It was said, though never verified, that the P’town spectators showed up at the games with their pockets already filled with good throwing stones. (There are classifications of stones, you know: skipping stones, lucky stones, etc. These were carefully selected throwing stones.)
Attitudes got so bad that the selectmen from the two towns decided that they had to do something to patch things up and establish a new relationship. They met, along with the respective managers, and agreed that from then on each team would make a greater effort to overlook minor differences.
Came the day of the first subsequent game, and the Orleans team boarded the train, along with the smiling selectmen. Upon arrival they were met by the smiling P’town selectmen, cordial and welcoming in their demeanor.
My father said that he, of course, was the lead-off batter. He was planning to “greet the pitcher”, as they say in baseball parlance, with good wood on the ball, setting the pace for the rest of the game. Came the first pitch and my father put everything he had into the swing. Unfortunately, he didn’t put enough effort into holding onto the bat, which flew out of his hands and caught the pitcher squarely on both shins. Down the tracks they all ran, selectmen and all, ruing the day that they thought they could do anything about a good, dependable, predictable,and well-developed grudge.