It took more than three weeks and resulted in over 60 pages of notes, but I finally made it through the first Boots Poffenberger scrapbook. The largest in the collection at 197 pages, this book chronicles Boots’ career from 1937-1940 and I think that I now know more about the 1940 Nashville Vols than I do about the 2011 Baltimore Orioles. Reading articles and clippings each day was more than just stepping back in time, it was stepping back into a different world–a world of train travel and off-season training regimens that consisted of bowling and billiards; a world of double-headers and players who entertained the fans with songs and skits between games of double-headers; a world full of boys before WWII turned them into men.
It was also a world of hyperbolic sports prose. For example, Fred Russell, sports editor of the Nashville Banner wrote the following: In tattooing his twenty-eight triumph of the campaign, Kid Boots was positively elegant. Never has he exhibited more mound mettle, more real courage in pitching himself out of numerous tough spots midway of the battle, then finished unusually strong.
Past and present really became rather mixed for a moment when I came across a 1940 photo of Boots and his wife perusing the very scrapbook through which I was looking.
One scrapbook down and the rest of the tub full of material to go. I can’t wait to learn more about the life and career of one very fascinating Cletus Elwood “Boots” Poffenberger!