Any fan of the Thomson High School baseball program this spring is familiar with starting pitcher Abe Cartledge. The powerful lefty dominated the opposition this year. When not pitching, he was the Bulldogs' first baseman. No slouch with the bat either, Cartledge had a .305 average, including four home runs. He also played a vital role in the dugout, leading his teammates in chatter.
"Most of the chatter the team has been doing all along, and I just try and get them started," Cartledge said in a late-season interview. "We stopped doing the 'Fi-yah' one last year, and I told the guys we should bring it back this year, and I like to lead them in that one. I also like to get a beat going in the dugout to back up the chatter. And sometimes new chants will pop into my head during a game and I'll start doing them."
Chatter isn't easily transcribed to the written word. Using rolling consonants, a back-and-forth two-part format, varying tonality, and adding his own passion to the chant, Cartledge's chatter was unique. Perhaps his most distinctive chatter goes something like this:
"Get da ... Hi-yah! Got dat.... Fi-yah! Throw a little..."
"High-ah! Leave it for da, leave it for da, Leave it for da ... Worms!"
When an opposing pitcher failed to throw a runner out at first, the immediate response from the dugout was:
"Adda, adda, adda, adda ... uh" "NO!" Three times in rapid succession.
Or another favorite, "Not even ... Close!"
Or a more recent addition, "One, two, three ... NO!"
"I wouldn't say I'm the team leader in chatter, 'cause we've got other guys that can do it, too," Cartledge said. "In the playoff game against Allatoona, Nic Wood and Josh Jones kept it going."
Cartledge's chatter often served as a force multiplier for the Bulldogs.
April 29, 2011. Thomson faced Harlem to determine who would be the region champions. Harlem started the game trying to rattle him. As he faced the top of their order in the first inning, Harlem's dugout kept up a constant stream of chatter aimed directly at Cartledge, not even trying to hide the fact that they're yelling straight at Cartledge. Clearly irritated but not rattled, Cartledge retired the side after giving up only one run.
Returning to the dugout, Cartledge took a few moments to sit down and transition mentally from defense to offense. Soon he was on his feet, and it was obvious from the fire in his eyes and the passion in his voice that it was payback time.
"Get da ... Hi-Yah! Got dat ... Fi-yah! Throw a little ... High-ah! Leave it for da, leave it for da, leave it for da ... Worms!"
Cartledge kept it up the entire inning. Thomson's bats responded with three runs, putting the Dawgs up 3-1. Between the hot bats and Cartledge's passionate chatter, the spirit visibly ran out of the Harlem team. Thomson won the game 11-3.
Abe Cartledge. Pitcher, first baseman, slugger ... force multiplier.
David Ford reports and photographs news and sports events in the Thomson area. His photos of many of this past season's Bulldogs baseball games appeared in The McDuffie Mirror.