Nichol’s lot offered opportunities Alex Box cannot

Viewing college long ball and remembering the lost baseballs at Nichol’s field.

Suppose we were about 10 when we started playing our sandlot game on the only place available on Gay Road. It was a vacant lot next to Allen Nichol’s house, hence its name.

Stretching from Gay to Linda Road, its 100 feet by 150 (huge to us then; now just an empty spot of grass) was our first Field of Dreams (more nightmares in my case — no hit, no field, just desire).

Barbe, Penny, Boswell, Region, Fonville, Goodman, McDonald, Preston, Brian, Aderhold, Schmidt, Brown, Thomas — names stamped in the field’s dusty Hall of Fame.

Rules were simple. Home plate and second base only. Teams drawn by hands on bat handle. Foul balls were outs.

To the left meant dealing with the Townley girls (Linda and Kay) — not really so bad in retrospect.

To the right meant Mr. Nichols. Chasing a ball there (or raiding the plum trees, but that’s another story) was sorta like venturing into Boo Radley’s  yard. No one was up for that.

A ball hit there was a ball lost, which often meant game over.

Every once in a while three or four balls would appear on the ballfield, sort of like the tooth fairy and her nickels.

Years later, Nichols, the school superintendent, told me, the aspiring journalist, he still had a couple of the foul balls. He said I should stop by and get them.

Never did. Wish I had.

Jim Butler, a Bolton High School alumnus, was an acclaimed writer and editor at the Alexandria Town Talk for 36 years, the last 23 (1977-2003) as editor-in-chief. He led Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of Hurricane Katrina for the Gulfport (Miss.) Sun-Herald in 2005. Butler returned home to Cenla a few years ago, and sharse his talents and insight with Rapides Parish Journal readers.