Spring is definitely in the air, and for Hickory Valley resident Nick Dobbs that means one thing: time to play ball!
Just 92 years young, Nicklin Dobbs, better known as Nick, has deep roots in the sport, from being named after local star ball player Strang Nicklin to being the son of John "Johnny" Gordon Dobbs. His dad, born in 1875, came into the sport during the very early days of baseball when Chattanooga had several small teams in each area of town from Signal Mountain to East Chattanooga.
"Baseball is all we knew," Dobbs said of his life growing up. "Every year we went to spring training with my dad."
He shared how his dad began his career in Chattanooga in 1901 at the age of 25 before going on to play for the Brooklyn Superbas, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs. Dobbs said he enjoyed going to the stadium with his dad almost every day and getting the chance to live in different cities.
Once he felt his playing days drawing to a close, Johnny Dobbs continued to be involved in the sport he loved through the role of team manager. He started with the Nashville Volunteers in 1907, managed the New Orleans Pelicans from 1914-1922 and finished his career with the Birmingham Barons.
"All these young guys would always come out to spring training and tell [my dad] how they were
going to be a star," Dobbs recalled of his father's teachings. "'That's up to you,' he would tell them."
Today, Dobbs remains a true fan of the sport his father raised him in. He has many treasures from his dad's career and other baseball memorabilia that he's picked up along the way. Dobbs has donated photographs and other items to the Chattanooga History Museum, and he threw the ceremonial first pitch for the Chattanooga Lookouts' first game of the 2011 spring season.
"I like the Atlanta Braves but I watch pretty much whoever is on," he said of his current baseball activities. "I never thought I would get this old, but it's been a good life."
Dobbs resided in North Chattanooga for more than 40 years, but came to be a resident at Hickory Valley Retirement Center in December 2010. He said it's a good place to live and he enjoys sharing his history and heritage with fellow residents and visitors.
"Having all the pieces of their history here in these walls is very special," said Hickory Valley Sales Director Holley Hasting. "It's like their history becomes a part of Hickory Valley and a part of who we are."
Hickory Valley: A Senior Living Community is located at 6705 Ballard Drive in Chattanooga. It is an independent living facility with some assisted living options available. For more information on the community and its activities, or to schedule a tour, visit www.hickoryvalleyretirement.com or call the office at 423-855-0508.