One of the most rewarding aspects of the book signings held so far for Boots Poffenberger: Hurler, Hero, Hell-Raiser is having folks share the fond memories of their youth, and of Boots. There are still so many stories about Boots floating around out there that I may eventually have a sequel! Here are two of my favorites so far and I plan to write about others in the future.
Jack Phillips, whose father published the newspapers in Hagerstown for a quarter of a century told me this story at the Winchester Book Gallery: His dad had season tickets right beside the Hagerstown Owls’ dugout and one Sunday afternoon during the first game of a doubleheader, the manager of the Owls looked up and down the bench for Boots who had pitched the night before.
“Where’s Boots?” he asked.
“Last we saw him, he was on the floor of the Funkstown American Legion,” replied one of the players.
“Go get him; he’s got to pitch the second game.”
Some of his teammates left the ballpark, fetched Boots, stuck him in the shower, and he pitched the second game.
During Williamsport’s Canal Days signing, Gary Weaver who had a cabin next to Boots’ along the Potomac, told me this tale:
Boots was at his cabin along the river one night when he summoned Gary and told him to call the ambulance because he was sure that he was experiencing appendicitis.
“Do me a favor, Gary and wait down here at the end of the lane so as to flag down the ambulance. They’ll never find the entrance to this place in the dark,” Boots instructed.
Gary, of course, was rather flustered and asked Boots if he wanted to be driven straight to the hospital. Boots replied, “Nah, I’m just going to go up to the house and lie down.”
The ambulance arrived and carted Boots to the hospital where his appendix was safely removed with no complications. Two days later, however, Boots’ wife, Hanna, called Gary on the telephone liberally cursing him.
“For two days, I’ve been looking in every bar in Washington County only to find out that he’s been in the hospital! And you knew it all along!”
“I just assumed that Boots would have told her he was in the hospital, but he didn’t!” laughs Gary.
As Boots’ step-son Jerry Knode once told me, quite often if you wanted to know what was going on with Boots, you had to read it in the paper.
I’ll be doing a book signing soon at one of Boots’ old haunts here in Williamsport, formerly Ern’s Tavern, now known as the Third Base Tavern. “Last stop before home,” as it says beneath the name on the sign out front. I can’t wait to hear the stories that I will hear in there!