George Track stood well over 6 feet with a barrel chest, short torso and long legs.
His arms were long, too, and when he threw a baseball to me, his hand seemed to come right along with the ball – before he released it and it plunked into my waiting glove.
His dark eyes flashed when that happened, followed by a laugh that sounded like it started from the bottom of a rain barrel.
When summer comes and the days are hot and long, baseball creeps into my mind and I’m 12 again, waiting for practice or game day. Often, I think of George Track, too, because he taught me how to throw a curve ball.
Stand over by that haystack, he said, because you might not be able to handle what I’m going to deliver. I did as he instructed, and sure enough, the first pitch was almost to me when it darted hard to the right, and down. The haystack stopped that pitch, and others like it.
After awhile, I asked him if he would show me how to make a ball curve like that. And he did, demonstrating his grip on the seam of the ball, and the snapping motion he used on release.
I tried it, but without success.
You’re gripping it right, he said, but you need to twist your wrist quickly when you throw it.
After many attempts, this time with George standing in front of the haystack, I achieved what could only be called a “wrinkle curve,” such was the smallness of the break.
George told me he played baseball as a boy, and as a young man tried out with the Kansas City Monarchs, a famous professional team in the Negro Leagues.
I thought of George for another reason in recent days. If an American Indian would help a young white boy with a curve, and I in turn respected him as a man, why is our country so divided by race?
Will we ever get past the historical wrongdoings and hate? At some point we must put the anger and violence aside and follow Dr. Martin Luther King’s advice:
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
What if our nation suddenly became “color blind”?
July 27, 2016