At the end of the Korean War, I was assigned to Parks Air Force Base, Calif.
I joined the base softball team, playing left field. Military bases all over the United States were being closed, and we had trouble finding teams to play in our part of California.
Santa Rita Prison got word to us that they would play us anytime. There was a high fence between the prison and our air base. They wanted to play a doubleheader and would feed us between games.
My team won the first game with ease.
When I came up to bat in the second game, they had a different catcher. All their players had been talking trash to all our players.
We had runners on first and second base. When I stepped into the batter’s box this very large catcher told me that he was going to cut me with his knife if I got a hit.
I hit the second pitch over the fence for three runs. When I rounded the bases and got back to homeplate this big catcher was standing there, laughing his head off.
He said, “Boy, you didn’t think I was going to hurt you, did you?”
I later looked up Rodney Gallion, my best friend who went to Burdine and Jenkins schools with me. Because I went into the military early, I did not know that he married one of our classmates, Bethaleen Bowers of Jenkins.
Rodney was an air policeman on Parks. He wanted to work in education, and will all my pull I got him a job in that field, where he worked for 22 years before he retired from the military.
Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, California.