This post is the first of a multipart series of posts on Dayton family sports interests.
When you think of the activities the Dayton family are involved in, sports hardly ever comes to mind. The words Dayton and sports used in the same sentence is an oxymoron. We Daytons are more into books, learning, religion, the fine arts and nature. Seemingly, the Dayton family is not known for sports at all. We seem to have a distaste for them. Other than hunting, the Dayton boys seemed quite devoid of sports. At least that’s what I thought until I started doing research for this story. Now I’m finding sports stories popping up all over the place. Hail Dayton Sports! Viva Dayton sports!
I have several ideas which will turn this topic into a multi-post series. I’ll cover Paul Dayton first. By doing so, you will get an idea of types of sports information I’d like to report. You can help by sending me sports stories or information or leave comments on posts which you’ve read. Any person affiliated with the Dayton clan is fair game… your patriarchs, father, mother, son, daughter, etc. This post about Paul may give you ideas for subsequent posts.
Paul Dayton–The Sportsman I Never Knew
I love sports of all types, especially baseball, and college basketball, but I got that from my Carter side of my family. The Dayton boys loved hunting. I’m not sure where they developed their skills because Grandpa (Wilber Dayton Sr) never hunted. Perhaps their interest came from the White family. Hunting was certainly in Chop’s DNA, and I think the other boys just followed in their big brother’s footsteps. I’ve written about deer hunting and probably will again in the future. But can you think of any other sport they liked?
Softball—As I was recently searching though old newspapers, much to my delight, I ran across the article at the left. Paul Dayton had hit a home run in an organized, town softball league. I didn’t even know he played. The EMBA was a very respectable town league made up of former high school and college ball players. I don’t know anything more about his softball endeavors than this article. I do know that he had another baseball glove dating from the 50’s. It was also in the garage, buried under more imporyant stuff like firewood. I imagine that glove was the one he used in the EMBA league games. I kept that one, had it framed, side by side with my first glove, and gifted them to my grandson Luke.
Baseball—Each year, dad took our family to New York City to see either a Yankees or Mets baseball double header. They did it for me. Dad was frugal, and two games for the price of one was a deal he couldn’t pass up. In those days, you could take a picnic basket of goodies into the stadium, so mom packed enough to feed setion 207. The year Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s home run record we sat in the outfield stands so close to Maris that we could have hit him with a baseball or a bottle when he went to the fence to catch a ball.
In 1964, dad thought it would be a good father-son bonding experience to take me to a Mets-Phillies game at Shea Stadium in New York. It was a twi-night doubleheader, game time 6:00 p.m. We travelled by Greyhound bus, leaving about noon and returning about 5 a.m. the next morning. It was a long day and one I will never forget. Thanks, dad.
Stock Car Racing
Stock Car Racing—Paul was a fan of auto racing. Most Thursdays we went to the track in Menands, NY, then on Fridays we often went to Saratoga Speedway. His favorite track was Fonda Speedway where we enjoyed a Saturday evening filled with entertainment.
Corinth Wesleyan Methodist Church held a weekly Prayer Meeting service on Thursday evening until the mid-1950’s. That conflicted with the Stockcar races, so Paul petitioned the church to change Prayer Meeting to Wednesday evening. I don’t know the circumstances or motivation for the other board members’ votes, but dad’s reason was clear to everyone. And they did change to Wednesday evenings.
Swimming—Paul always enjoyed swimming. He was a good swimmer, and he had to be. He was in the Navy. Not one of his five kids nor his wife knew how to swim a single stroke. One summer he was determined to change that. He thought it best if we were at the beach at 7 A.M. every Saturday morning. Probably it had something to do with both modesty and timidity. We returned home around 9 to the greatest breakfast a mom could make (bacon, ham and eggs with all the trimmings). However, dad’s mission was a failure. We never learned to swim, and we kids protested so much he ended the experiment after a month.
Logging Competition—Although dad never competed, we went to a logging competition in Tupper Lake, NY every summer. The logging show was an outdoor extravaganza with all the latest in logging and sawmill gear. Kids loved it. They received vendor samples, watched a big parade of logging machinery, and viewed competitions of chain saw log cutting, axe log cutting, tree climbing and log rolling. Dad was positively sure that he and Red Allen would be undefeated in the log rolling race, but they never tried. Any combination of Chip, Paul and Roger would probably have won too. Dad and I would have come in last. I was pathetic.
Other sports—A few years before he died, I asked dad if he was interested in any particular sport besides hunting and he said, “oh, I don’t care as long as it isn’t football,” and he reached over and teasingly and lovingly slapped my arm. I had been the MVP running back on our high school football team. My mom and dad attended every game, and much later in life they told me they went to the games to make sure I didn’t get hurt. I’m not sure of the logic of that statement, but I appreciated it. He went on to mention that he ran cross country for Corinth High school. The coach begged him to play soccer, but it conflicted with his paper route. In the winter he liked to play hockey with neighborhood kids.
Although he didn’t like sports all that much, he knew I did so he always read the sports page and was prepared to talk about what happened the day before. I can remember discussions about Cassius Clay (AKA Mohamad Ali) knocking out Sonny Liston, Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 points in a basketball game, and Warren Spahn pitching his 300th baseball game win. He knew they were my favorite players.
My mom was involved with sports too…she was constantly yelling at me to stop bouncing the basketball in the house.