Dr. Brooks Blevins, Speaker at Old Independence Regional Museum on Nov. 19th!

Blevins and Hardball

Folks who remember local baseball games in days gone by will want to go to Old Independence Regional Museum at 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 19. Dr. Brooks Blevins will be speaking about those games in a program titled “Hardball in the Hills: Stories of Baseball and Ozarkers.” He will chronicle town teams, minor leagues, and famous and colorful players who made it to the big leagues.

Blevins is the Noel Boyd Professor of Ozark Studies at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri. He is the premier historian of the Ozarks and Ozark Culture. Blevins earned his bachelor’s degree from Arkansas College (now Lyon College). Since that time he has authored or edited seven books, including Ghost of the Ozarks, Hill Folks, Arkansas/Arkansaw, and the History of Lyon College. His next book, The Old Ozarks, is coming out next summer.

This museum program about sports is the 11th one presented in 2017 at Old Independence Regional Museum. The focus on sports was planned to introduce the coming to the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibit “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America,” which will open in the museum on December 16th

Exhibit curator Twyla Wright said that presently in the museum is a detailed diorama of a 1950s community ball diamond and exhibit panels that tell about early baseball teams. One states that Charles and Chaney Taylor, later Batesville physicians, played in their youth on both Cave City and Batesville ball teams. A couple of early ball diamonds were located in Batesville near where the White River Medical Center is now, and another one at Daffin Field, just east of present Krogers.

Wright stated, ”Voughn Wilson of Bethesda told me that in the 1930s their men’s team played every Saturday afternoon at Cushman, Bell Grove, Webber Chapel and other nearby places.”

This program is offered as part of the museum’s year-long emphasis on sports in preparation for the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibit “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” installation. The museum will have its grand opening of this large exhibit on December 16.

The program will be free and open to the public.  Normal museum hours are: Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Admission is $3.00 for adults, $2.00 for seniors and $1.00 for children.  The museum is located at 380 South 9th street, between Boswell and Vine Streets in Batesville.

Old Independence is a regional museum serving a 12-county area: Baxter, Cleburne, Fulton, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Marion, Poinsett, Sharp, Stone, White, and Woodruff.  Parts of these present-day counties comprised the original Independence County in 1820’s Arkansas territory.

Ginger Smith joined OGTC in 2014 as a volunteer, and has lived in this area since 1972 when she moved to be near her parents, the late Doss and Vivian Burgess. Her late father was Independence County Appraiser and any time family, whether kids or grand kids, came to visit for even a short time, he would take them to A.D. Hill’s grocery store, and get them a soda pop and candy bar, see the talking bird there, and end up “checking out the great White River.” All the kids and grands have played on the banks there, picnicked, and played on the old train. Ginger is adamant, since she moved to Batesville, there is just no other place to raise a family. Her love for the area and desire to help promote it in her professional capacity led her to seek volunteering, and Charlie Morris, whom she met when she was a typesetter at the Daily Guard Newspaper, put her in touch with Cathy Drew, Executor Director of OGTC. She has been on board since then and says she has loved everything she has done and is proud to represent North Central Arkansas.
The last 20 years of her employment she worked for the late County Judge David Wyatt, West Elementary School Principal Jerry Harris, and Circuit Clerk Claudia Nobles and Judge John Kemp. At the Guard Office she says she made friends for a life time, and then the West Elementary teachers, students, and their families grew close to her forever. Her last job she was hired in a newly created position to collect felony fines and restitution. She was so proud that after three years she more than tripled the annual revenues that she retired! Her part-time retirement job was with the ortho docs, Drs. Allen and Angel where she also met many people from all over the area, and made another set of new friends! She is a published writer and has also written feature articles for the Batesville Guard TV Guide and the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
She has a daughter, Misty Long Sparks, son-in-law Dloyd Sparks, and three grands, Dalton Lee, Victoria Lynn and Anna Rose, who own her heart, and three more heartbeat grands, Nico and Corbin of Washington, and a late granddaughter, Ginger Savannah. Her late husband, Ken Smith, was the Batesville Postmaster.
Totally retired now, Ginger offers her time and writing abilities to OGTC as she travels around the state and visits with so many nice folks, writes reviews, and tries to be a worthy representative for Ozark Gateway Tourism. She is a people person who really cares for all God has blessed us with in our beautiful state of Arkansas in the United States of America.