Friends honor old-time baseball player
BLACKFOOT – At 91 years old, Dallas Satterfield is still just one of the boys. Satterfield's friends, who started meeting for coffee in the 70's, gave him a birthday surprise him Friday morning by singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and presenting him with a cane –– which they custom made from a baseball bat to celebrate his life.
Satterfield was born in the small town of Sterling where baseball was a really big deal. Satterfield's father coached the Sterling Grimm Growers baseball team. At the time every community had a baseball team and the competition was intense. By the time he was five years old, Satterfield knew he wanted to be a baseball player. He would spend hours throwing balls at the barn. In eighth grade, he joined the Grimm Growers team.
"To tell you the truth, I was a damn good player," said Satterfield. "I played almost every position, but I loved third base and I was a good pitcher."
So good in fact, the St. Louis Cardinals sent scouts to watch him. But, the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 changed everything. Young men, including Satterfield, started enlisting in the Armed Forces. It was a decision he would later regret.
"Two days after I enlisted with the Air Force I got a telegram from the St. Louis Cardinals inviting me to try out," said Satterfield. "I've always wondered what would have happened."
While in the service, Satterfield played four seasons of baseball against several major league players including Joe DiMaggio, Lou Stringer, Cliff Chambers and Hall of Famer Red Ruffing.
Satterfield's wife Edith said "in one game against left-handed pitcher Cliff Chambers, Dallas couldn't hit off him batting right-handed so he switched and batted left-handed. After the game Chambers came up to him and said he had never seen anyone switch like that."
In the summer of 1944 at Avon Park in Florida, he got to pitch against major league players. His team lost 1-0 in 10 innings and after the game they came where he was changing and put him on a scale because they couldn't believe someone his size could pitch like that.
Satterfield served five years in the military, then moved to Butte, Mont., where he played five seasons with a semi-pro team. It is also where he met and married his first wife, Audrey. Together they raised eight children who now live throughout the United States. With great pride, he'll tell you he also has 17 grandkids and nine great-grandkids.
In 2002, one year after his wife passed away, Satterfield took another swing at love. He called Edith, the girl he took to his Junior Prom.
"What a gal, my Edith. I called her one day and here we are," said Satterfield. "We grew up together, I took her to Junior Prom, and we got married Nov. 21, 2003 and we're still the best dancers in the state."
Satterfield's longtime friend Ralph Hauser said "his life is such a great story. I really admire his love of baseball, his knowledge of the game and his love for his family and friends."
Satterfield is proud to be the oldest guy in his coffee group which has spent decades sharing their loves and their losses every morning. They laugh and tease with a comfort only years of friendship brings. And, they appreciate each other's birthdays more with every passing year.
Satterfield, who officially turns 91 on Jan. 8, plans to celebrate in style next Saturday when he takes his sweetheart dancing.