The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

October 14, 2013

Belinda Softball Park commemorated

A small sign has been installed in a cornfield approximately 12 miles south of Knoxville. This sign commemorates the location of the Belinda Softball Park, a favorite recreation in the community from 1947-67.

A team of local boys had been playing fast-pitch softball in and around Chariton with excellent pitching provided by Junior Nichols. It was then that the fathers and others in the community decided they needed a ballpark of their own. The park was built by Belinda community members on donated land, complete with lights and an outfield fence.

On July 31, 1947, a team of WHO Radio personalities came to Belinda to play. Around 2,500 people came that night, which helped pay the remaining debt on the park. The park and the Belinda team soon became well-known and other teams from all over the state scheduled games at the new park.

A group of younger boys formed a “young boys” team and eventually, some of them moved up to the “big” team. Later, girls organized their own team and played several local female teams.

In 1994, a group of friends, relatives and teammates traveled to Cedar Rapids where Junior Nichols was inducted into the Iowa Amateur Softball Association – Men's Fast Pitch Hall of Fame. He had pitched for Belinda for 21 years and had many people to thank for this honor.

Pictured are members of the 1947 Belinda Softball team. In the front row, from left to right, are Dean Taylor, Nick Whitlatch, Jim Garrett, Chuck Finch and James Moon. In the back: Bob Nichols, Bill Bingaman, Vidge Bingham, Junior Nichols, Bob Rinehart, Jack Beebout and George Nichols. (photo and article submitted)

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