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Out On The Mudline

Vick Was Famous Baseball Player From The Area

By W. P. Sissell

Attention All Baseball Lovers

Let me introduce today’s story by telling you that I have had several requests to tell the story of Sam Vick, probably the most noted baseball player of our area. I know we have had several men from the area who played major league baseball.  Two, Dolan Nichols (he introduced me to Nannette), and Jim Miles were friends of mine.   Jim came to Batesville when his father, who worked for the State Highway Department, was transferred to Batesvillle.   Jim played for Batesville, Delta State and then major league teams.  

Jim went from coach at Batesville to Northwest Junior College where he had several championship teams before being named Athletic Director.   Today he and Marguerite live at Mathison on the north side of their place (away from the Highway 82 traffic.)  Jim’s attire is always “overalls” just like his dad.  

I answered all the requests relative to Sam Vick in the same way.  I didn’t know enough about the man to write an article.      I attend church at Mount Olivet United Methodist Church.  Several years ago the people of the church expressed a desire for putting together the history of the church.  I agreed to put all the information together if the people who lived it would help.

At that time there were several Vicks still attending Mount Olivet.  When you pass the church on Hwy. 315 there is a, one-time Mount Olivet School, building on the east side of the highway. Sam Vick’s father made the blocks used to build that building.  Lou Neil and Evelyn Vick let me look at a copy of the Vick history book that, from memory, is about three inches thick.  

I still did not have the information about Mr. Vick that I needed to write an article.  I had known Sam Vick’s son, Conner, for many years and taught his grandson, Calvin, at North West Junior College. When Conner began showing up at the meetings of the Panola County Genealogical Society, I asked him about writing his father’s story.  He immediately told me that he couldn’t see well enough to do that but would put some things together and tell his dad’s story.  

Conner did just that as a program at the last meeting of the society, for two hours.  I wish that I had taken one of the tape recorders along but that’s “spilt milk.” The following I take from the scratched-out notes I took as Conner talked.  Incidentally, I may not have everything exactly right. Both Conner and I are aware of that, but as the politicians say “Conner approved my writing this—although he did not sign my notes–.”     

Sam Vick

If you go out in Panola County, Beat 4, along the Pope Water Valley Road today you can see the  large, stone house built by Sam Vick, retired major league baseball player.  In his later years he gave up managing in the minor leagues to come home and raise peaches.

His orchards were a beautiful sight in the spring.  Sam’s daughter lives in that house today.  Some of his kin loved to grow fruit and give it away.  I think I ate some blueberry jelly this morning that came from Lou Neil and Evelyn’s blueberries left anonymously on our front door step.  

Sam’s dad was a baseball lover.  He worked regularly and hard with his boys. Sam began playing with the Mount Olivet “brush leaguers” at the age of fifteen (most of the players were grown men).  After seeing him play in a game against the Batesville team, Mr. Flint invited him to play with the Batesville team.  Sam was now in the eighth grade.  Sam’s brother, Athrel, apparently didn’t love baseball like Sam.  I know him from another avenue.  He was my good friend, Ralph Monteith’s, uncle.  I knew him to be one of the good farmers of the area.  

Automobiles were not the thing of that day. Sam rode Old Charlie, (a gray mule) to the games in Batesville.  Mr. Flint gave him  a complete baseball outfit including spiked shoes.  However, Sam was not in the Batesville School District so he could not attend school there.  He went to the Courtland Agricultural High School.  The baseball team there won the state championship. Sam played with the Batesville team in the summer.  

During the regular season, back at Courtland Agricultural High School, the team won the championship again. Sam Vick was now pitching two games in one day.

I will continue Sam’s story next week. As Conner said, “There are many stories to tell about Sam Vick.”

Thanks for the many encouragements.  Our wish for you is a happy day and maybe fewer of those storms we just went through.  We got almost three inches of that rain we needed last summer—that’s not a complaint—just a remark.

You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606, wsissell@bellsouth.net, or 662-563-9879.

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