As the boys of summer are swinging their bats, I want to give a shoutout to the boys of summers past.
For anyone interested in the history of Appalachian baseball, check out the 1990s documentary, Extra Innings: Coalfield Baseball, from the archives ofWSWP Beckley/Grandview and distributed by West Virginia Public Broadcasting.
Having trouble? View on YouTube.
As the description says, “Many Southern West Virginia coal camps had baseball teams in the 1930s. This is the story of coalfield baseball’s golden era.”
The Sunday games after church were a “raucous displays of coalfield culture,” said the late Stuart McGehee of the Eastern Regional Coal Archives in the doc. “Every little coal company town, and there were maybe 500 of them in Southern West Virginia, had a baseball park. Everyone’s game was baseball…Quality of ball in the coalfields was as good or better at any level of semi-pro or amateur ball in America.”
County League system peaked right before WWII and disbanded in mid-1950s.
Do you have stories about Coalfield Baseball? Share them in the comments!