It was the 1950s, and attending professional baseball games brought in thousands of passionate fans. And we’re not talking New York or Boston or St. Louis; we’re talking Acadia Parish. In fact, this story takes us back to Crowley, which one author says, is the best little baseball town in the world.
Author Gaylon White has written a book called "The Best Little Baseball Town in the World". He suggests that town is the town of Crowley; he also suggests it involves a stadium called ‘Miller Stadium’.
“Everybody came to the ballpark; everybody was here. It was the place to be. you had the old, the young, the blacks, the whites, we all came here. We were family,” remembers Richard ‘Coach Pizz” Pizzolatto, who attended Millers’ games as a child and spearheaded field renovation efforts in the late 1990s. Miller Stadium, and back in the fifties, the Crowley Millers were a shining light in south Louisiana baseball. And nowhere did that light shine brighter than back home in Crowley.
“The best little baseball town in the world,” says White. “The ‘Cooperstown of Dixie’, which was its other nickname. For its time in the fifties, the early fifties, there was no small town in America that was more passionate about baseball and more supportive of its team. And the significance of the team to Crowley was, they were family. What the New York Yankees are to New York the Millers were to Crowley. “
White's book tells the stories---and highlights great athletes and colorful characters. The Millers started in the Gulf Coast League in 1950, and then until 1957, were members of the Evangeline League, in which for a few seasons, the Millers drew more fans than teams from Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Alexandria and New Iberia.
“Miller Stadium was out of 'Field of Dreams' before they even had a pro team,” adds White. “They built it in the hopes that a pro team would come.”
Miller Stadium was packed, game after game. The field and stadium received a glorious facelift in the late nineties (a campaign spearheaded by Coach Pizz and Mayor Isabella Delahoussaye), and those spectacular renovations only serve to accentuate some extremely fond memories of a special time.
“They had a deal called 'The Knothole Gang',” recalls Pizzolatto, “and for 50-cents a year, you had a card, and you could sit behind the dugout and watch the games. Then, after the game, the manager would send all the kids into the outfield, throw a ball, and the kid who caught the ball got to keep it.”
You’ve got to love the work done at Miller Stadium, done in the late nineties and the place still looks awesome. Crowley? The best little baseball town in the world? Could be true.
The Best Little Baseball Town in the World by Gaylon H. White is available via online bookstores.
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