I fondly remember when Satchel Paige pitched for the St. Louis Browns professional baseball team. In those days, before the Browns relocated east in their transformation into becoming the Baltimore Orioles, many a St. Louis kid was allowed into old Sportsman Park free in the Browns’ futile attempt to increase falling attendance.
I remember sitting in a crowd of youngsters near the relief pitcher's bullpen listening to baseball lore and chatty wisdom being spun forth by the legendary Mr. Paige. He was nearing 50 years of age then, but still could "get 'em out" for a few innings.
You're probably wondering how the amazing Satchel Paige and a column about Flagstaff trails could be related. That story begins and ends with a chance encounter on the Tom Moody Trail in Picture Canyon.
I've been to our preserve many times and have always walked the path that encircles the Rio de Flag route through the canyon. I had never tried, however, the newly established Tom Moody or Don Weaver trails because my usual track included everything I thought I wanted to see. But I started to run into visitors who were flummoxed by trying to follow those two trails.
These folks must be 'Ish Kabibbled" I thought. Nobody gets lost in Picture Canyon. Then I remembered that time on the Hawaiian Big Island when I couldn't find a street in Hilo. I stopped in a gas station to seek directions. The attendant answered with a patronizing giggle before asking me how I could possibly get lost on an island. I never did find that hidden boulevard.
But back to my story about Satchel Paige and the Tom Moody Trail. I've never been lost in the woods although I've been turned around a time or two (or three!) A friend clarified for me a puzzling part of the Moody Trail, and once enlightened I immediately began exploring the newly found section.
Along the way I met a married couple from Baltimore and after a bit of conversation discovered they were devoted Oriole fans. And in 1953 they had also personally welcomed the St. Louis Browns to their new home field in Maryland.
Plus, they greatly appreciated Satchel Paige and especially his famous quote, "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?" I quickly countered with my favorite Satchel saying, "Don't look back, that way you'll never know who’s gaining on you." We shared some agreeable small talk while standing there on the Tom Moody Trail and then went our separate ways. It really is a small world.
On a more recent walk in Picture Canyon with petroglyph authority Bob Marks we encountered a youth group from Texas being led by his equally astute wife, Ellen Billo. And we also passed a class of youngsters from the Willow Bend Environmental Education Center being coached in outdoor ethics by Cassandra Roberts. Picture Canyon truly has become a special community asset.
Please join me on Saturday, Oct. 28, to trace the elusive Tom Moody Trail and on Sunday, Oct. 29, to follow the Don Weaver. Both walks start at 1 p.m. from the Picture Canyon parking lot at the end of the Flagstaff El Paso road.