Doug Settle, middle, holds a special plaque that was presented to him recently in honor of a towering home run that he hit when playing Perry Township Pony League baseball in 1965. Settle is with teammate Dr. Ed Wills, left, and Barry Hix.
By Barry Hix
As a youngster growing up in the early 1960’s, I always looked forward to the arrival of spring which signaled warmer weather around the corner.
It also wouldn’t be long before lots of kids living in Perry Township would be playing organized summer baseball. Boys 8 to 12 years old played Little League baseball at fields in Edgewood, Southport and University Heights.
Edgewood Little League was located on the grounds of Edgewood Elementary, Southport Little League was at Homecroft Elementary, and University Heights Little League was at Indiana Central College, now University of Indianapolis.
From 1953 until 2007, thousands of 13-14 year old boys continued to play baseball in the Perry Township Pony League with diamonds at 5391 Shelby St.
I played ball at the Edgewood LL (1953-1963) and Pony League (1964-1965). I still have a lot of fond memories of those summers I played ball at the Edgewood Little League (‘59-‘63) and Pony League (‘64-‘65). My most memorable summer was 1965 on the Temperly Trucking team that became league champions with a 15-3 record. We played the majority of our games ‘under the lights’ which give most of us a major league feeling.
One special event that summer turned out to be my most cherished Pony League memory. It was a warm mid-July evening and our team was down a run in the next to last inning. With a runner on second base, one of our best hitters, Doug Settle, stepped up to the plate. I was standing against the fence next to the third-base dugout when I watched him hit what has been considered the longest home run ever hit at the field.
The ball nearly hit the lights in left-centerfield which stood 25 feet above the top of the fence. It finally landed in a yard across Shelby Street and those who witnessed the blast estimated the ball traveled an amazing 420 feet.
The entire team ran out on the field and greeted Doug as he reached home plate. As we headed back to the dugout we noticed he had tears running down his cheeks. A few of us patted him on the back but none of us said a word because we understood the reason for the tears.
As he sat down on the bench Doug told us he hit that home run for his father, Chuck, who had passed away just one month earlier. It was an extremely emotional experience for everyone who attended the game and that special moment has stuck with me for the past 55-plus years.
On a beautiful day last November, a small group gathered at the former Pony League Field, presently Bulldog Stadium, where we presented Doug with a plaque commemorating his historic home run. Joining in the celebration was our former teammate and SHS classmate Dr. Ed Wills, former longtime Pony League coach Steve Harnedy, Bulldog Stadium administrator John Parmalee and former Pony Leaguer Ted Lobdell who coordinated the photos on the plaque.
His homerun is a special memory that still echoes throughout Perry Township wherever today’s youngsters play organized baseball.