Thursday, May 4, 1961
Caverna 14 Campbellsville 2
It looked quite different 50 years ago. You will have to use your imagination. The former Horse Cave High School faced College Street from the center of the U. You can vaguely make out the sidewalk leading up to the front of the building. A Kentucky History book that my father used illustrated the school building as an example of a “modern school that was replacing the one-room school house” in the 1920’s. A primary school of four classrooms and a full-sized gymnasium was built to the right (east), below (south of) the connection drive to Comer Avenue in the 1930’s when Horse Cave was a state power in basketball. In 1961, the home of Caverna High School principal Wilbur Smith was on the corner of College and Comer inside the block. Across College Street on the north side across from the school were the residences of, from the left, the Poynters, The Gilpins, The Shusters, the Nevilles, The Grubbs, and the Donohues. Senior Sue Carol Donohue was head cheerleader at Caverna in 1960-61.
Behind the gym, on the lower right side of the U was home-plate of the baseball field facing southeast. The metallic back stop, freshly painted silver, with high grade wire, ran behind the first baseline, east, all the way to first base and ran behind the third base line all the way to third base. Three sets of wooden bleachers were behind the backstop, one directly behind home plate and one each behind the first base and third base benches.
The infield and most of left field was dirt. What grass there was in right field was mostly scrub-grass. The left field line ran south, some 250’ and then the backyards of the neighboring residents came into play. (There were no trees there in 1961, and some foul balls were said to have once been found in the kitchen of the first house.) A farm fence separated what was then the corn field (maybe I am just thinking of “Field of Dreams”) in the lower left from the baseball diamond. The corner post of the field was in dead-center field, some 330’ from home plate. Balls hit to the right or left of the corner post usually ended up as long outs. A fence in right field, probably 375’ down the right field line, separated the school property from another adjoining field.
To the north of the first base line, just to the west of the U driveway was the school playground with a sliding board, merry-go-round, and jungle gym. To the east of the third base line near Comer Avenue, were the two asphalt paved high school tennis courts enclosed by a chain link fence.
So, why is it important on this day to know about the home field? Because on this day, May 4, 1961, there were two trot-off home runs hit into that cornfield in center field. In the early 1950s the fence had extended to the left field foul pole and seeing a home run hit to left was not uncommon. (I think I remember my cousin Donny Woodward hitting one in 1953.) But since the subdivision was added and that left field fence came down, no balls had been hit out of the park that I know of. And today, not one, but two were lost in the cornfield. It seemed appropriate that both were stroked by current first baseman and former centerfielder Phil Rogers. In a past season, Rogers had once roamed into a backyard in deep left center to make a diving bare hand catch raising the ball in the air as he lay on his back. Today, he increased his legend with his offense, while maintaining a season batting average of over .600.
Rogers was definitely the Player of the Day as Caverna improved to 9-0 on the season. His performance overshadowed a pitching performance by Dennis Doyle who pitched a two-hitter, giving up two infield singles. Doyle’s hitless inning string ended at seventeen, as he gave up his first hits of the season. He also included two doubles among his three hits.
Junior center-fielder Don Lindsey improved his batting average to over .400 in his first year as a starter and senior second-baseman, David Moore, known for his defense, increased his batting average to over .300. Overall, the Colonels rapped out 18 base hits in the victory.
May 5, 1961, The Park City Daily News