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Adam Adair encouraged the club in a new venture in communication for next week.

The Noon Optimist Club of Marshall met online Wednesday, June 24, with President Le Ila Dixon sharing an innovative approach for library books delivery. The pandemic, she noted, has closed schools and public libraries across the U.S., but a Virginia librarian, Kelly Passek, has thought of a creative way to keep kids reading, free of charge. The solution? Drones will deliver books of their choice straight to their door. “I think kids are going to be just thrilled to learn that they are going to be the first in the world to receive a library book by drone,” Kelly told the Washington Post.

Le Ila also urged the club to be thinking about new officers to assume office in October. Optimist Michele has indicated her willingness to continue as our treasurer, but she is ready for someone else to accept secretary duties. The club would be best served by someone with experience in the position of president, vice president and treasurer positions. Members with less experience in the club might consider becoming the secretary, foundation representative, newsletter editor or program chairman.

Finally, she announced that next week due to the encouragement of Optimist Adam Adair and the good work of Optimist Melissa Al-Ahmadi our on-line meetings will be enhanced. We look forward to the experiment!

In a break from sharing our own stories, Optimist Richard Magrill shares a tidbit of club history from its earliest days.

In the spring of 1946 the young, upstart, and mostly recently returned World War II veterans of the Optimist club challenge all the other service clubs to face them on the baseball diamond. Only the Lions are up for it. Immediate past Optimist president, Max S. Lale, whose “day job” is with the News Messenger pens the report. It is probably more even-handed than it might have been in view of the final score and Lales’ need to be impartial. However, that score, 26-19, is later treated and remembered as something more like 26-0. (It resembles a football score and the game is referred to sarcastically? as “a brilliant seven-inning pitchers’ duel.”)

The score confusion is evident when the 1947 game is announced under the headline, Hold Your Hats, Boys: “The Marshall Optimist club, just couldn’t let well enough alone. With a perfect softball record against the Lions — from a lop-sided victory last year — they had to go and challenge Ernest Smith’s and Ray Clark’s crowd again. With an upsurge of the competitive spirit, the Lions accepted; a contingency which the Optimists had not expected from a group of the age bracket represented in the Lions club. The debacle takes place at 7:30 p.m. at the city park diamond and the public is cordially invited to stay away, as if anybody in his right mind — except the wives and girlfriends, perhaps — could be interested.”

The result is duly reported under the headline, Optimists Down Lions Club 7-0: “The famous Lion’s roar was only a weak ‘me-a-ouw’ this morning after Frank Green, Optimist club whirlwind, had set them down with one hit in a 7-0 inter-service club softball tilt at the city diamond Wednesday night.” “The game was not without its moments for Lions club partisans, however. Going deep into right field for a hard-hit ball, Dr. Joe Black discovered after a hot-foot leap that he sure enough had made the catch to the surprise of all concerned, including the local veterinarian.”

Optimist Joe Hirsch of Joe Weisman Co., “playing in what appeared to be the lower half of a suit of winter pajamas and C.M. Beckett, Jr. who mistook the park for the local golf layout and showed up wearing a visor, led the Optimist club attack.”

There is a curious interlude in the contests when the paper announces for Friday evening, February 20, 1948, “one of those rabid inter-club athletic contests” between the Lions and Optimists. “With memories still fresh in their minds of two thorough trouncings on the softball diamond at the hands of the Optimists, the Lions Club issues a challenge at ten pens.” Did the Lions get their revenge? Or did the Optimists continue to twist their tails? A search reveals no answer.

The sportswriters at the paper were still having fun when May rolled around and they announce the 1948 challenge as “another one of those muscle-bending burlesques staged annually between the Optimist and Lions clubs in what is loosely called a softball game.” They note that the Optimists had won the previous encounters by “lop-sided scores.” The score in 1948 is announced as 12-3 in favor of the Optimists but does not jibe with later reports that the Lions never scored in any of the match-ups. This report contains the erroneous statement, “though the Optimists won the game, the Lions won a moral victory by scoring their first runs since the yearly contests were started in 1946.” What about their 19 runs in the 1946 game?

In 1949, the Optimists challenge again but the gentle reporting of 1946 is long gone: “The Optimists and the Lions will play an alleged softball game Thursday night at the city park. The festivities are slated to begin at 8 o’clock. This is approximately 30 minutes before the cheers and jeers of a multitude of 30 wives will begin.” The report notes that the Optimists won all the previous games “by scores which are still the subject of dispute” (no wonder given the reporting!) but according to “the best unofficial tabulations,” the Lions have not scored a single run against the Optimists (hardly true if the score in the original match-up was 26-19 and that in 1948 was 12-3).

The report of the final 1949 game (if game it can be called) is not in the sports section but squeezed into a short notice in News of the People: “Optimist club members won their ‘third’ [it was really their fourth] challenge softball game in a row when members of the Lions club failed to appear for the inter-club game scheduled last night at city park.”

SOURCE: Marshall News Messenger: 06/17/1947, p. 2; 06/19/1947, p. 6-7; 05/27/1948, p.18; 06/03/1948, p.11; 06/06/1948, p. 2; 06/21/1949, p. 2; and 06/24/1949, p. 2.