Back in the early days of the last century, kids all over east Texas were heading to makeshift diamonds to toss the horsehide around. The game provided a break between school, chores and plowing, but for a farm boy from LaRue, it was the first step on way to the big leagues.
Growing up, Carl Reynolds could swat the ball with authority and speed around the bases as fast anyone in Henderson County had seen. Stories of Reynolds accomplishments appeared often in the Athens Review in his playing days, that included 13 years with four big-league clubs. He was a career .302 hitter who might have fared even better had he not been the target of the injury bug late in his career.
Reynolds was a .500 hitter during his high school days, then traveled down to road to Jacksonville, where he played at Lon Morris College. After two years there, he headed west to Southwestern College in Georgetown. Big league scouts saw him in action and were impressed enough to give him a shot at the big time.
By the time Reynolds broke in, in 1927, baseball was on the upswing. Babe Ruth was the king of the hill and Yankee Stadium was his palace. Reynolds packed his bags for Chicago to patrol the outfield at Comiskey Park, home of the White Sox.
Reynolds became a full-time starter in 1929, and rung up a .317 batting average. His 67 runs batten in, although not an impressive number led the weak Chicago team.
The following year, was his best. While posting a .359 batting average, he also had career highs in hits, with 202, and runs batted in, 103. His speed allowed him to record 18 triples. To put that in perspective, no one has hit 18 triples since 2008.
On July 2, 1930 Reynolds slammed three straight home runs. During the season, a writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer called Reynolds "one of the foremost outfielders in the league."
The darkest day of his career was on July 4, 1932, Reynolds rounded third and headed for home, barreling into New York Yankees catcher Bill Dickey. Dickey took offense and smashed a punch into Reynolds jaw. The injury kept Reynolds out of the line-up for more than a month and drew a 30 day suspension for Dickey.
When his playing days were over Reynolds coached for a while, then retired to a farm in Wharton where he became a stalwart in the community, serving on boards at the bank hospital and junior college.
In 1971 Reynolds was enshrined in the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in its first year of existence. In 1990 he was inducted into the Southwestern University Hall of Honor.
He never forgot his family in LaRue. A 1951 Athens Review story tells of him coming home to see his dad on Father's Day.
Reynolds, probably the greatest baseball player Henderson County ever produced, died on May 29, 1978, at Methodist Hospital in Houston.