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Fri, Mar 24, 2017 03:28 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
This n' That
Take me back to the ballpark
My brother and I went through some of my dad's things over the weekend, and it was quite obvious that the man was baseball crazy.

Of course, we had known this since we were kids, but seeing his vast collection of baseball stuff just reminded us how much Dad loved the sport and how much it loved him.

My dad, Paul G. Fyffe, who died at the young age of 65 in 2000, was responsible for bringing the New York Yankees — or their farm teams — to Paintsville in the early 1980s. Known as the Tri-County Yankees, the teams were a big hit with area baseball fans and won several Appalachian League pennants during their stint in Paintsville. But, like everything else, their time came and went, and soon the only thing left were memories.

I have all kinds of memories of the Yankees — like how many times some of the players borrowed my car because they didn't have their own or how many new "girl" friends I made because they knew that my father knew the Yankees. But I can't complain too much. I earned a lot of spending money managing the souvenir stand at Central Park (now appropriately called Paul G. Fyffe Field), and I have to admit that they were some of the happiest summers I have ever had, even though I didn't know it at the time.

One summer, the old TG&Y store in Paintsville gave away a shopping spree (I think it was for $100) to a lucky ticket holder at one of the games. It was one of several prizes given away that night, and all of them were kept at the souvenir stand to be picked up by the winners. When the ticket number for the shopping spree was called and no one retrieved the prize, my friend Paula (who also worked at the souvenir stand) and I decided to take things into our own hands — literally. Since the actual winner had apparently left the game prior to the giveaway, and since we didn't want to see the shopping spree go to waste, we figured there was nothing wrong with treating ourselves to a day of shopping at TG&Y.

And so we did.

We knew what we were doing wasn't totally right; then again, what was wrong with cashing in a shopping spree that was meant to be used? We ended up buying a lot of useless junk, and I don't think either one of us was really comfortable doing what we did, but the fun part, of course, was seeing if we could get by with it, which we did.

There was also the summer when they made the TV movie Kentucky Woman and Cheryl Ladd and Ned Beatty visited the park to take in a game (but I don't think it was on the same night). Ladd was so plain and ordinary looking that she slipped by Paula and me without either one of us noticing her. She was also a snob, reportedly refusing to sign someone's autograph when approached. Beatty was completely the opposite, gladly signing a Yankee banner for me after I told him what a big fan I was (which wasn't a lie) and that I had done his scene from the movie Network for a play audition at Prestonsburg Community College.

As you can see, my memories of the Yankees don't necessarily have to do with baseball, but they are memories nonetheless. Anybody who was associated with the Tri-County Yankees has some kind of memory, good or bad, and none of them would have been possible without my dad's love for the game of baseball. Paul G. Fyffe Field is truly deserving of its name.

Now, how about the Tony Fyffe Honorary Souvenir Stand? Sounds pretty good to me.

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