From the early 1970's until 2000, there was just two fields. There was a large field for the men's church league and a smaller one for the ladies. For 30 years, the area came alive with the sound of crowds cheering and the smell of popcorn. The fields were jam packed with teams playing softball.
The league was used mostly for the young ladies who were too old to play in Red Bank recreational softball. The church league founder Mrs. Norma Cagle wanted a safe place for young ladies to play softball. Mrs. Cagle and the White Oak Lions Club team up and get the church softball league going.
Through it's 30 years of wonderful fellowship and family togetherness, a tradition was built. At first, the league was opened to any of Chattanooga's area churches. The league became so popular that the league had to close it to just Red Bank churches.
Home run derby, watermelon eating, homemade ice cream and other exciting things happened during the season ending tournaments. It was like a scene in a Disney move at times because it seemed so hometown and pride of that hometown.
In 1998- it all changed. Mrs. Cagle passed away expectantly. A huge purple wreath hung on the oak tree at the field where she sat during the nights of softball. She loved all of her softball teams. The young ladies who have played in the league for 30 years was called "Norma's Girls." The Red Bank mayor and commissioners wrote up a proclamation naming the James Avenue ball field, the NORMA CAGLE Field.
The league went on for another year but sadly closed in 2000. The team either disbanded or went elsewhere. One team what was left of Norma's church league traveled up to Soddy-Daisy to play in their Church League. They won many league championships.
The Cagle fields sat vacant and silent like a thrown away paper bag. The fields that once was so busy were vacant. The White Oak Lions Club closed as well. The field became a popular place for non church activities and questionable meetings.
Many of Norma's former ball players would visit the fields like a long lost friend. Dixie Youth teams used the fields as for extra practices. At least someone was using the fields that Norma cherished.
One day, one of Norma's former softball girls wrote a story about the fields for Chattanoogan.com. WRCB Channel 3 picked up on the story. They wanted to do a human interest/hometown story about the fields. At the time, a local group had plans to remodel the fields for fast pitch games. The group cleared out everything. The lights, fences, stands, and even Norma's tree was torn down. The sign stating the field's name was crushed by the bulldozer like a paper cup. Norma's daughter found it in a pile of rubbish. They had little to no feelings. The sign was fished out and stored at one of the young ladies' house. The group runs out of money and the fields sat vacant once again.
The city of Red Bank saw the news story and wanted to do something about it. Red Bank's then mayor and commissioners ran with the idea to remodel the fields for the Red Bank Recreation Softball. The RB recreational league's fields were being taken up for the new RB Middle School.
The other day, Norma's daughter Beverly and myself walked around the fields. It was like visiting an old friend. The fields are beautiful. The whole complex is beautiful. There was much love and hard work who went into remodeling the area. Beverly and I looked off the picnic area. We wished that Beverly's parents could see their little fields. They would love it as much as Beverly and I do.
I cannot help the feelings building up inside while I walked around. We passed by the flag pole marker that the White Oak Lions Club built for one of their faithful members, Mr. Stegal.
I want to send out endless thanks and appreciation for taking care of our ball fields. Our Red Bank mayor and commissioners get a lot of bad press for all kind of things. They mean a lot to me for all the hard work that took to get Norma Cagle Fields back on its feet. I wished the future young ladies who play on the fields knew Mrs. Cagle and the city for what they put into the fields.
Thanks to RB former mayors (Pat Brown, Joe Glasscock, and Monte Millard), former city manager Chris and now city manager and all the ones behind the scenes. Thanks for everything.
One of many Norma Cagle's softball girls,