Then get yourself a copy of “Dirty Rice – A Season in the Evangeline League” by Texas novelist Gerald Duff, published by UL Lafayette.
Whether the title of this book is a reference to a dish commonly prepared by Cajuns or to a bunch of small-town baseball players (the Rayne Rice Birds, in this case) trying to throw the championship series, the story rings true to life as it was played in those days.
After reading “Dirty Rice” I was ready to believe that Gemar Batiste, the Native American star pitcher from East Texas, really existed, that he played for the Rice Birds in 1935, and that he single-handedly tried to thwart the plans of certain real-life individuals to make a killing by buying off several of Gemar’s teammates. In fact, I would be disappointed to learn that it never happened.
I’m also ready to believe that the author himself played in the Evangeline League, so accurate and authentic is his stance and his delivery. Born in 1937, I lived through the twilight of small-town baseball, and I clearly remember watching as the Catahoula Dirt Movers beat every other team in their league repeatedly, beat every opponent thrown against them with the sad exception of early television, the force that took it all away from us forever.
There is nostalgia of the best sort in this book, as well as humor, love, sadness and a generous serving of Native American philosophy. I’m not crazy about baseball, but I found myself reading “Dirty Rice” slowly, sometimes limiting myself to one league game per night, all the way through the championship series, so as not to finish too quickly. It is a time worth reliving, in spite of the Great Depression and the coming world war, and “Dirty Rice” is a story worth reading, at least once.
You can get a copy at area book stores or directly from the UL Press – www.ulpress.org.
Greg Guirard is a noted nature photographer and author.