Delmar Sports Scene
By Tommy Young
Having been away for few weeks, I am not up to date on all of the local sports action, but reading the papers that were left for me, I could not find anything in regards to Little League activity which is really sad. It would have only taken a little effort from the people who are managing these teams to send in the results of their games and make the kids’ efforts appreciated. There will be more about this later.
And now about this column itself and what prompted me to write it. Recently the words “Dodge Ball” have been popping up quite a bit, especially since the television show by the same name came out, but the dodge ball I remember was nothing like the television show as it was a young
child’s game played by both boys and girls. It was also the first organized team sport that I ever played that had a real coach, and this is how it all came to pass. For the older folk, it might bring back a few memories, and for the younger readers, it could serve as a history lesson. To set the stage, we will have to go back to the middle 30s during the Depression and travel out to the Delmar (Md) Elementary School situated on the corner of old Route 13 and Chestnut Street, on the lot where Holy Redeemer Catholic Church now resides. This school housed grades 1 through 7, and the playground was divided by a cement walk that led from the sidewalk to the front door. The girls and smaller boys played on the right side of the walk and the boys on the left. The boys’ sports consisted of softball, shooting marbles, playing on a large metal swing that was on the back of the lot or the exercise bars near the sidewalk. The girls played dodge ball, jumped rope, played tag, or any other games they could dream up.
All of these activities were spontaneous until spring when Mrs. Ruth Figgs, who coached everything, started organizing teams to represent the school in the Wicomico County Field Meet, which was held at Wicomico High School, located where Wi Junior High is now because it had all the facilities to host this event. You could win gold, silver, and bronze medals for finishing first, second, or third in any of the track and field or team events. You could bring your own food, but most of the kids put aside a few coins to be able to buy ice cream, hot dogs, fries, etc., which were very reasonably priced. After all this was the big sporting event for kids all over the county, and they all looked forward to it every year.
Meanwhile, back at Delmar Elementary, Coach Figgs was selecting and preparing her teams and individuals. Can you imagine one person taking on this much responsibility today? She made it look easy because she was knowledgeable and fair, and it was the only game in town.
The track boys and girls practiced on the east end of Chestnut Street. The field events consisted of chinning bars and jumping events which could be done on the regular playground, and the softball and dodge ball teams played on their own fields.
Now, here comes the sad part, as a ten-year old fifth grader who was hoping to make the softball team was cut along with two of his classmates a week or so before Field Day, but they were told they could play on the dodge ball team as ten year old boys were eligible to play on the girls’ team. After talking it over with my two friends, we decided to begin practice with the girls. Some of the girls were not too happy because they were all older than we were, but the silver medals won Field Day made them much happier with us.
Incidentally, the softball team, which was made up of mostly 14 and 15-year old boys, because these boys missed a lot of school as they had to work on farms and had to repeat grades, only got silver medals also.
So, I guess being on the dodge ball team was no too bad after all. However, over at “The Field,” where the boys on the Maryland side of town learned to play all sports, we took a lot of ribbing from the older boys. But, what goes around comes around as my two buddies, Howard Wingate and Jimmy Truitt, and I made the softball teams the next two years and won the County title and gold medals as seventh graders. That year we were the only 12-year old boys on the team, so I guess playing dodge ball that year wasn’t too bad after all.