Local citizen pens tribute to baseball and country

Photo by Dave Boyd
J.D. Anderson (right) and DinoÕs Restaurant owner Kent Williams and hang a copy of AndersonÕs poem in the restaurant.

Tuesday afternoon provided a special moment for Elizabethton resident and former Air Force Sgt. J.D. Anderson.
Anderson, a life-long fan of baseball, wrote a poem entitled "Baseball, An All-American Game," which was placed in Dino's Restaurant for permanent display.
The poem is split into the prologue and epilogue style, used by many greek poets, following a young couple through Elizabethton, where they spot a Twins' game, and closing with a patriotic tribute to the game and the country.
"I wanted to write a poem about baseball for a long time," Anderson said. "I just couldn't seem to bring it together. Finally, a couple of years ago it all hit me and I knew how I could do it, using a prologue and epilogue style. So I wanted to give notoriety to my hometown of Elizabethton and to the great country that we live in."
Anderson began playing baseball as a kid and it became his favorite sport.
"Baseball is my favorite sport and I learned to play it out in the country in the cow pastures," he said. "Every chance we could get, we would play a pick-up game."
"Baseball meant a lot to me because it is the one sport you can play at some level. You don't have to be seven-foot tall like basketball and you don't have to be rich to get started in it. You just have to have a desire to play."
Anderson had many great stories about the game and its relation to the country, including being stationed with a Major League pitcher.
"During World War II, baseball went to war because a lot of players were in there," he said. "I met quite a few from the various leagues. One was a major leaguer and he was a pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, Andrew 'Jess' Dobernic. I met him in Dyersburg, Tennessee, where we were both stationed with a bomb group.
Dobernic pitched for the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds during his brief major league career. He had a breakout year in 1948 with the Cubs, going 7-2 in relief.
"In May 1943, during Memorial Day weekend, most of the guys took flights and went home," Anderson added. "I didn't have a car and it was too far to come to Elizabethton, so I laid around on the base there."
"I was there in my bunk one day and this guy comes through and nudges me," he continued. "He had a ball, mitt and glove and asked if I wanted to come out and catch a little. So he gave me the mitt and I didn't like catching, but nevertheless, I went outside and told him to take it easy on me."
"So the first one he threw just about tore my hand off. After a few more, he numbed my hand and I had enough, he just about killed me. He was in my outfit overseas and we spent two years in Italy, where he was an electrician, and he carried that ball and glove wherever he went."
Once the poem came together, it received a lot of praise around the community. If you're a baseball fan, it's worth a trip to Dino's just to read the piece and get a good meal at the same time.
"It's kind of humorous in a way, where a couple is going out for a drive and the old boy is all hyped up because his girlfriend's with him and he thinks she's causing his happiness," Anderson said of the flow of the piece. "But they go by O'Brien Field and she says 'what's the score, babe, what's the score' and I feel like she got to go to that ball game."
There's a lot more to the poem, but I won't spoil it. You'll have to read it yourself.
Added Anderson: "I hope it shows that baseball is the All-American Game."
It certainly did just that.