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My dad was one of the early baseball integrationists, and he thought everyone should have a chance to play the game.” After their move to Fort Smith, Hig did a terrific job of promoting sports for boys.In 1948, with donations from civic minded folks, Hunt’s Baseball Field was decked out in lights at a cost of ,000, a considerable amount of money in those days.Crowder won an impressive 1,000 games as a coach, and Crowder Field at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith is named for him.“I kept learning baseball under him and his assistant Jack Mc Knight,” Billy says.Billy was seven in 1945 when he moved with his parents to Fort Smith, when his dad became the director of the Boys Club.
” Baseball was huge with folks from little country hamlets to big-city residents.
With lights, baseball teams could compete well into the night.
“By the time I was old enough to mow the grass at Hunt’s Park, I was also picking up the trash, and playing baseball there every day.
Fort Smith also boasted immaculately groomed Andrews Field, where semi-pro teams regularly played, and “knothole” passes were given to little boys to watch through the holes in the wooden fence in exchange for shagging balls.
“I still have one of my knothole passes,” Billy says.