In the Summer of 1953 the first integrated Little League Baseball team in Kentucky, (second in the South)* was formed in the small coal-mining town of Middlesboro Kentucky.
Told through the eyes of a 12 year old boy, Charlie, THIS FIELD LOOKS GREEN TO ME explores life in Appalachia at a time when America was on the precipice of change.
We begin in the summer of 1953, a country segregated. Parallel lives lived out, separate but not equal. The everyday scenes of children in segregated schools, theaters where “coloreds” sat in the balcony, and only whites could order from the soda counter at the drug store, make it obvious that Jim Crow is the law of the land. “For as long as anyone could remember, this was just how things were.” Charlie recalls, “and no one ever expected anything different. You had your place in life, others had their place.” But things were about to change...
“The world is like an enormous spider web” Robert Penn Warren wrote, “and if you touch it, however lightly, at any point, the vibration ripples to the remotest perimeter.”
It was at the Cumberland Hotel, that year, where nine community-minded men, led by Harry Hoe, made a decision that would turn into a mighty tremor. With the Little League Baseball Manual as their guide, the Elks, Lions, Kiwanis, and Jaycees crossed the color-line by introducing the first integrated boys little league team in the South, a team for “all the boys” regardless of the color of their skin.
THIS FIELD LOOKS GREEN TO ME is about race and relationships, about the fortitude of men and boys and certainly about the identity our country is searching for. It addresses the importance of mentors and role models for America’s youth. Our hope is that this story will provide an opportunity for parents to have serious discussions with their children about such an important subject.
* To the best of our knowledge and research, it is our understanding that the Middlesboro league was the first to integrate in the State of Kentucky. The first league in the South, that we are aware of, was a team in Virgina.