The closing of Poston Feed Mill brings back special memories to some Stephenville residents.
These memories are not directly related to the agricultural products of the business, but to a Little League baseball team sponsored by the late T.C. Poston, founder of the 70-year-old business.
This story begins in the spring of 1956. At that time, this writer was director of public information and assistant professor of journalism at Tarleton State College (now University). R.L. (Dude) Ballow Jr. approached me at a Friday meeting of the Stephenville Lions Club, asking if I would manage the Poston Feed Mill Little League baseball team. I thought for a moment, then told Dude my knowledge of baseball was limited. However, if he were that desperate I would give it a try. Although Dude was managing the Ballow Insurance Little League team, he assured me he would help.
The Ballow family was a dedicated baseball group. At that time, Dude’s brother, Cecil, was the Head Baseball Coach and Dean of Men at Tarleton State. Cecil had lettered fours years in baseball at Texas A College (now University). In addition, the younger Ballows were good Little League players - all playing for Ballow Insurance. Dude and Cecil’s father, R.L. Ballow Sr., also had a keen interest in baseball.
Ann, Brad and I were living on North McIlhany Street immediately east of the Tarleton campus. One of our neighbors was a Tarleton student from Mingus named Joe Bertino. I asked Joe if he would be my assistant manager. He agreed, but he also advised me his knowledge of baseball was limited.
Prior to the beginning of the regular season, I talked with Poston about managing the team. He was most kind and understanding, advising me, “Stuart, if there’s anything you need in equipment, just go down to Western Auto, buy it and tell Jack Harding to charge it to me.” Harding was the store’s owner.
Little League players were between the ages of 9-12, and they often lost baseballs. Some of the nine year olds would cry when they lost one. I would attempt to console them, advising those things do happen. If we were unable to find the lost baseball, then I would later journey to the Western Auto Store to replenish our supply.
Jimmy Poston, T.C.’s son, was eight years old - too young to play in the Little League program. I named Jimmy as a batboy, and he seemed to like his job.
During June and July, the Poston Feed Mill Cubs lost every game in league play. Yes, Dude did give me some advice and pointers, but never enough where we could win a game.
Toward the end of the regular season, I discovered if a team had a good catcher and good pitcher, then more victories might light up the score board.
At the end of the regular season, a tournament composed of the Stephenville teams plus about four other teams from the surrounding area, participated in a Little League Area Tournament. Poston Feed Mill’s first opponent was Gorman.
The Poston Cubs recorded their first victory of the season by beating Gorman, 8-0. Poston gathered its eight runs on only four hits and two errors, while Gorman had no runs on only two hits and two errors. The victory seemed to instill a will to win for the youngsters on the Poston team.
The second game found Poston playing Ballow Insurance, which had won the regular season title. Poston won its second game with six runs on only two hits and one error, while Ballow Insurance garnered four runs on five hits and one error.
In the championship contest, the Poston Cubs beat Stafford Buick of Stephenville, 8-6. It was an uphill battle that went into an extra inning. At the end of two innings, Poston trailed Stafford, 5-1. Finally in the sixth inning, the Cubs were able to tie the score, 6-6. Little League regulation play was only six innings. It was in the seventh inning that Poston scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to win the tournament championship, 8-6. Although the Cubs had six errors, they were able to overcome these miscues to bring about the victory. The Cubs had eight runs on six hits. Stafford tallied six runs on six hits and only one error.
And that’s the way it was 52 years ago in Stephenville - a Cinderella Team came through at the last moment to bring about a memorable summer for a group of youngsters and a local feed mill.
Dr. Stuart Chilton, a retired educator/journalist, lives in Stephenville. He occasionally writes for this newspaper.