Advancing the Runner: (in baseball) to move a runner ahead safely to another base. Often the conscious strategy of a team. This increases the chances of the runner scoring.
I am the runner. The one trying to "advance", move forward, reach a goal, complete a task. In life, as in baseball , it helps to have a good team. A handful of people focused on advancement. A shared journey. Here is my team:
Pat Hughes, play by play announcer for CUBS on WGN Radio.
|Pat Hughes photograph from bleachernation.com|
Pat Hughes answered my email. He simply said " Leigh Ann, I want to help you". WGN had given all of their radio archives to a guy named Ron Barber who wrote a book about Jack Quinlan (Cubs Broadcaster) a few years back. Pat gave me Ron's number.
|Ron Barber- Author and Cubs Fan|
I contacted Ron ,who is currently going through the archives to see if any audio exists (fingers crossed). Ron is encouraging me to "stay the course" in my quest no matter what.
Pat Hughes also put me in contact with George Castle and accomplished journalist (author of several books) and baseball historian who lives in the Chicago area--still writing...still talking baseball. George wrote an article about me for the Chicago Baseball Museum
Staring at the list of names and numbers for days, I decided to start with the ones I knew. Opening each conversation by introducing myself and asking "Do you remember my father Verlon Walker?" I have made countless phone calls on this "quest" so I can assure you I am no shrinking violet . I can handle myself on the phone, but these calls are strangely different. I feel myself changing from this self assured 45 year old woman to a painfully shy little girl.The minute they answer my voice gets shaky. The kindness coning through those phone lines is nothing short of divine. I can feel the presence my father when I talk to these guys. They ALL remember him and have generously shared their memories and themselves with me. Enthusiastically they ask me who else I have talked to....who am I going to call next...can they take this journey with me too? George Castle pointed out to me that I am becoming my father's voice by reaching out to these players, listening to their stories, allowing them to reconnect and remember . Some of these guys have been forgotten by the big business machine of baseball. I find myself in a beautiful unassailable place with baseball historians, old school broadcasters, beat writers and gentleman who simply love the game of baseball. It is a sweet place for this "little girl" to be. I cry a little and they let me.
I'm not giving out any details. All will be revealed in my book (WINK).
Joey Amalfitano (Cubs 1964-1967) was the first one I called. He had actually kept in touch with me and mom after my father died. I remember getting autograph baseballs and pictures for Christmas one year (LA Dodgers). He works for the SF Giants organization now. We talked for awhile. One of the most interesting things he told me was Leo Durocher really liked my dad. We talked a bit about another Caldwell County native Madison Bumgarner who is currently a pitcher for the SF Giants and a home town super star.
|Joey Amalfitano during his Dodger days|
Chris Krug Cubs catcher 1965-1966 immediately remembered my dad as his first base coach. Chris is charismatic and interesting. He designed the cornfield/ball-field in the movie Field of Dreams.
Dick Ellsworth ,Cubs pitcher 1960-1965, remembered (among other things) my dad's quiet sense of humor and dry wit. His wife played him the voicemail I left and he made a special trip home to call me back.
Don Kessinger, Cubs shortstop 1964-1975. Don and I have emailed. He says my dad was one of the nicest guys he ever knew.
Al Yellon, Editor for Bleed Cubbie Blue. I sent him an email asking for help. I thought he might be able to reach a Cubs fan somewhere via his website/blog which has readership numbers through the roof! He wrote an article about my quest. Read it HERE.
Al use to sit with George Castle at Cubs games years ago---what a small world. Interestingly, one of the readers (bleedcubbieblue.com) suggested I contact the Mets organization. Maybe my dad & uncle did and interview together in NYC when my uncle was a Met and my dad was a Cub. Hi Ho Hi Ho its off to New York I go.
|Al Yellon bleedcubbieblue.com|
Thanks for reading and if you have any suggestions please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org.