Summer Stars

“Trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowances for their doubting too.”

Rudyard Kipling



In the rugged and remote highlands of far West Texas stands a gem of a baseball park, one built in the late 1940s for a team called the Guthrie City Cowboys by their legendary owner Knox Henderson Jr., a wealthy rancher and cattleman. Only Henderson Field survives today; it is rougher around the edges, but the place remains a legacy to the sport it was meant to be.

At games played there now, the crowds are smaller and the lights dimmer; the infield has as many bad bounces as true ones; and the outfield grass is not as lush and green as it was during the stadium’s premier years. Yet the footprints of great and ordinary ballplayers and the teams for whom they performed are stitched permanently into its soul. So too is the spirit of a man that imagined it in the first place, and ultimately linked it all together.
“Good evening, RayAnn,” he said, stepping toward the ticket window.

“Hello, Mr. Henderson,” she said. “It’s a great day for a ballgame.”

“Always,” he said. “Two, please.”

Knox Henderson Jr. was a baseball fan and he never walked through the gate without buying a ticket, regardless if he owned the team and the ballpark where they played.

In 1953, boys cuffed their jeans and girls wore dresses to school. On a larger note, Dwight Eisenhower was in his first term as president, the Republican Party controlled both houses of the U.S. Congress, and Senator Joseph McCarthy had begun his poisonous expedition into American history; it was also the year Martin Henderson’s grandfather introduced him to baseball. He was nine years old, more curious than knowledgeable, and for part of that summer his world revolved around the Guthrie City Cowboys, the field where they spun their magic, and the man he believed hung the moon.

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