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Bless You Boys of Summer: Flint's Baseball Dream

Radio Free Flint

34:29 min | 1 year ago

Bless You Boys of Summer: Flint's Baseball Dream

"Mm-hmm okay Arthur Bush. We're at a Radio Free Flint and I have a great show for a change or are shows are pretty good with this one is going to be exceptional. We have Jeffrey matches WHO's of Flint. Area Up Thomas and he has a great story to tell so without any further. Ado Jeffrey. Welcome thank you for having me. Jeff You You were a flint native and attended Freeman School McKinley southwestern and had quite a quite a career during that time in sports went us. Why don't we start there? And then I'll explain to the fan. The fans out there a little bit about that so I grew up on Dearborn street off a Atherton road. was a great place to grow up. Great neighborhood. Good kids past took care of us. it was the golden age of flat Schools were outstanding We had access to all the sports fields. And the gyms and We played ball from sunup until sundown and It was just set great time to grow up in Flint. Now Jump You Were a played several sports in high school. And I remember going back that far in the class of nineteen seventy one that you played Not Just Baseball. But you also played basketball. I couldn't remember who was football as well. Football too and your position in football wide receiver. Okay and Tell us a little bit about your sports career in high school so as sophomore. I didn't go off for football my junior high coach Coach Williams Told me I was probably should stick with basketball baseball. Said I was too fragile and get her plan football so I listened to him and I didn't go out. Slugged Waza Sophomore played. Jv basketball until Christmas. Time and then Herb mcdaniel. I got called up to the Varsity and we ended up both starting on the bar. City and Urbach same is going to be inducted into the Greater Flint African America Hall of fame this year. It got postponed because of a virus but he was a great player We weren't very good as As a team as Sophomores Juniors by the time we got to be seniors We won the Saginaw Valley Division and we made it to the regional finals got beat by Clinton are Great Flint. Northern Team Tom McGill Wayman Britt and Berry Menefee. We lost five games at your three of them were to northern and one of them was to Piney. Central Time May with campy. Russell so pretty good competition. Northern team go on to win. They win the State Championship that year. They did Actually they played this contact central twice in the regular season and on accent. Oh beaten both times The one at the I. M. A. was packed obviously and buynaksk central beaten by thirty three and They didn't meet in the State Tournament They both made it to the semifinals and Lizzie hairston Joe Johnson webs Detroit. Catering be panic. Central in the Semis Flint. Northern be somebody else that landlord that'd be carrying in files of course can't be. Russell agreed campy Russell. When onto play at the University of Michigan I think he played professional probably played ten years in the NBA. A good career. Well your basketball career was a lot of fun I could see I could see the competition was certainly flint style. Because you you played against some of the best and with the best Herbert Danone's of course was a terrific one. Better Flint basketball players in in our history. Jeff you also played baseball. And that's really where you do reached Some pretty high levels of for a high school kid of. Why don't you tell us you were as I understand it? You were drafted in the sixth round by the Detroit Tigers. Which may you the hundred and thirty four th pick In the amateur draft in nineteen seventy one? How did that happen? Well actually When I was a junior Bill Joy was a scout for the Tigers. Bb He went on to become general manager eventually He came to fly into Scout Mark Crane and Mike Taku at Flint Central and the game. He came to just handed. They happen to be planned. Southwestern I was planned for South Western and bill joy took a liking to me and He followed me. Obviously the rest of that year and my senior year and He was the main reason. I got drafted and so You know I spent a fair amount of time in In the winter watching the Toronto Blue Jays training down in Dunedin Florida and I listened to the code listened to the scouts talking. And there's been several times when we do that. Then I got in the middle of the debates about whether it was best for a high school or go to college or pursue professional baseball Tell us a little bit about your thinking there. Well Hindsight's always twenty twenty. If I had to do all over again I probably would have gone to University of Michigan or to Kent State University and Played Baseball and football I was recruited As a wide receiver to go UBER SO Michigan To play football for ball and I ended up signing with tiger so I never I never made it to them to play in the big house Probably not a good decision but it you know when you're eighteen years old. That's a tough tough thing to decide him. You're not sure which way to go sure. And that year in the major league draft you had some classmates who were also Draft by the Detroit Tigers and. Learn to tell us a little bit about that. So the number one pick that year was Tommy Verizon From Long Island New York? Great Guy Great Athlete Tommy probably ended up plan almost ten years maybe in the big leagues When I was When I signed with the Tigers when I got to Bristol Virginia the Rookie League Jim Leyland was our manager. That was Quite quite a team A bunch of eighteen year olds away from home for the first time. And that was Jim. Leyland's first you're managing so it was It was pretty interesting. Leland of course became the manager of Detroit Tigers and and also use the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. I remember and I think didn't Leland Win Well World Series Championship with a Florida team. Was it a floor above? I WANNA say Marlon Ninety nineteen ninety seven. Maybe you're go ahead. I'm sorry I might have the wrong. He Wanna off is Leeland in the hall of fame. I don't think he's very yet but you would think with the amount of Wins it. He accumulated over the years. You probably think he might get in at some point now. Jeff what was it like playing for a guy like Leland? He's a guy that he's kind of players coaches. I understand it. He was quite a character. He was only twenty six years old and he was trying to Babysit a bunch of eighteen year. Old Kids so it was It was quite a time I've got Some few few stories But probably can't tell all over my camera I remember one incident where we were. We stopped at a truck. Stop to eat and when we got back on the bus Bus driver started pulling away and the The police came and blocked the bus. And of course you know the manager sits in the front row on the right there and it was an leland gets off the bus and talking to the policemen and about ten minutes later here comes Leland policemen and they walk back through the lesson. They They Gabe. Mo- Horton who I believe is related. Willie Horton. I don't know if it was their cousins or mos nephew or whatever but turns out Mo- forgot to pay for his meal and that didn't go over too well and They ended up taking the MO off the bus. And we never saw Moore again I'm not sure it seemed kind of a stiff penalty for just hot lunch and up but you know what happened. What was it like to play? You ended up playing in Lakeland I played gives me. I played twice in Lakeland. Played in seventy two for the first half of the year and then in seventy five I played that seventy five team had lance parrish on it Mark the bird. Federal Judge Proper. Leaving off a couple of other guys but it's been richly. He was a great guy. he Ali Wore was a white t-shirt cut off blue jeans and low top converse purple tennis shoes and last parish live Had A had a difference on that he he said they're high tops and I'm pretty sure they were low tops but Great hard worker You saw him run and all the time. He's in great shape he had a really good stuff But he was he was just a normal guy wasn't off the field. He wasn't the bird he would just mark But yeah he I. I believe the next year seventy six was his nineteen thousand nine year in and The city of Detroit fell in love with him. No kidding talk into the baseball. That's the way I remember Taco baseball before he threw. It means he did that. He did that when I knew him. As well. It's crazy and So how long was your mind career? I've played until the spring of seventy six guy released in spring training in nineteen. Seventy six I see. Now you played not just in Lakeland but I miss Clayton another city or two at played in Clinton Iowa. I played in Anderson South Carolina and played in Bristol. Michael Wrong Clinton I. It's a hot. That was interesting I would just talking to my wife the other night about test. We were talking. It was snowing outside and we were saying it's baseball season snowing but the first night in Clinton opening night it was thirty two degrees. Because I remember I had a Turtleneck on and on another shirt and then my base baseball shirt and It was cold and actually a guy came out of the stands and streaked across Southfield and shimmied up the flagpole and then Stood on the top of the fence and jumped over. I remember that was opening night in in Clinton Iowa. We don't see Clinton I will with the streakers climbing rank all the smoke free close Jeff. Eventually you're one of the few major leaguers that probably made to Tiger Stadium before he got drafted right. My research says that that you had a chance to play as a senior in Highschool all-star Michigan High School All Star Game. Which was at Tartar Stadium? Technically it wasn't a official all star game. It was a A collection of high school kids that Bill Joy recruited to play in Tiger Stadium And there was I. It was it was unreal. Thank for me growing up in Tigers Fan Got To play right field that day. We actually played two games and them. I just put us on facebook a few days ago. when alkaline passed it was kind of surreal for me because I was roaming around the outfield where alkaline you know had been and still wasn't time And I was kind of odd by the whole thing and I didn't really look around to pay attention to where the wall was. And in the top of the first in House plan right-field big left-hander Left handed hitter came up and I just knew he was going to hit the ball. You know to me and sure enough. He yanked down the right field line and I went flying over and ran right into the wall and Full speed and luckily the wall was only waist high so I went flipping over. The Wall. Banged my knee up. Pretty good And didn't realize that I hurt my toe as well because when I got home I took my When we got the car afterwards I took my shoe often that my toast swelled up really bad and it was just about a week before. Football season started a little bit worried that I was GONNA get in trouble with coach. Jobson for being injured in baseball. But it it healed up. Okay but yeah. It was Gerry mays from Carmen also played that game and he He pissed on the other team. I got I got to bat against him and Unfortunately geared that point Had hurt his arm so he what he He he lost a little bit on his fastball. But when he heard his arm he could really bring it and he was a great hitter as well so just that that. That was fun I was that was right before we started our senior year. Oh mazing and Jeff you hone your skills on the playground pretty much. I was reading something you wrote the other day. That talked Abou playing at the Freeman School and McKinley. School as a kid I toss toss about that experience. What you thought of that. Well just a memory or too if he can. I remember pitching. I could throw it pretty hard but I had no clue I was gone so the guys were in vogue with varied up step in there. I guess May Scott Taylor was catcher and one ear One or two years. I remember that Paul Krause was our supervisor framing and a he was about six four and of course we were little guys who were just really thought. He was something else and every once in a while Summit say Paul hit hit one and somebody pits one to him and he was left handed hitter and he would Jack Him. There was a parking lot out in right field and he would and then there was a bunch of trees EPP beyond that he would jack up in the trees and we were just Kinda awed by him. He's isn't he lis- let's explain a little bit about him. The high he'd became an NFL. Legend really led the NFL. Mom in all time interceptions. Beat dat record might still exist. I think you're right. It was a fabulous athlete arguably the greatest all round athlete. Ever come out of flat You'll hear some different names. But he gets mentioned quite a bit along with Rick Leach He also played baseball. I think at Iowa and I've heard stories about how great a pitcher he wants. Video suffered his arm and back then. They couldn't fix arm. So you bet that pretty much as fi what led him to football nother guide at nother guy that supervised you in the summer months in the rest of the. The fellas was Fred Carol Who was Long Time teacher in Flint School district. Remember Him Oh yeah. It was a great guy. He's left handed is to play In Flip City League is a pitcher in the league but He was a great baseball guy. He taught us all the fundamentals. Zain so we were by the time we got South Western. We were We knew how to play the game. That's right well. My career in baseball ended on that. Feel that McKinley when I was playing in the summer. And there for some reason I usually played catcher but your friend of Mine Scott. Taylor went to to baseball camp to went together. Rules as leader understood. That was that was quite an experience. I'll never forget that it was. It was a great time Was Ted Way Baseball Camp Want to say it was in Lakeville Massachusetts where the somewhere in Massachusetts and Tad We never saw TAT tat. Never showed up but anyway it was a great Great Time There was a guy and they're named Eddy wake us who I believe was one of the Philadelphia Whiz kids He showed me how to play. First Base and We would place on the local high school teams and I remember one day. You can only if you're a pitcher. You can only pitch inning so the guy said well who who can pitch who can fill in a pitch offered to pitch so they let me pet. Scott Taylor was catching and I threw a no hitter and I was pretty cool then About a week later. Same thing happens and Unfortunately that game. I walked thirteen guys which is really hard to do because the the main thing with that is the coach of the manager. He's got to leave you in there for you. To Walk. Goes Thirteen guys. You think. At some point they come out and say okay son. You've had enough for the day. But Yeah Scott Taylor had the Advocacy that too can imagine. Cashing pitcher walks thirteen guys I did. I've done that in the park at Wendy in my neighborhood in the south. But I remember You Two fellas coming back and all of a sudden left the newer at one level. You were here. And when he came back like we are here in terms of Skill and And growth this baseball players. Jump up and bite the switch Basi- here just a minute One of the things that you grew up with and plant was the community school system which you've described earlier as golden years. What was it about Freeman School? A which Which made you think it was golden years. And what was it that they did that really gave you a boost I remember. I think they had a thing called teen club that there was a guy named Charlie. Mont Pass Had an organization called Afloat Olympian Club. Which basically we will do all kinds of sports activities. He take US bowling guitars. Out of box We have access to the gym whenever we wanted to It was just style. We always wanted to play. There was always placed to play there on the baseball field or in the gym and Bob Callous was instrumental in my life. I remember when you had gym class. Was Mr Cows His rule was When he blew the whistle you throw all the balls towards the office then he would put him in the office and then you go take a shower and then go to your next class. And one day I was shooting baskets in the book. The whistle blew and I just I just kept shoot. And so he blew the whistle again and I kept shooting and finally he called me over optimistic. Minneapolis give me a couple of swats hit. Yeah that that was okay to do that. Back then. And and that That was a lesson for me Like sign that. The world doesn't revolve around you. You know you. You're pretty good sports but you're You got follow the rules. And he lit me up. Pretty good with that pal and I never did that again. One of the things that we we work with Young people I have over the years and sometimes sometimes it isn't always the lessons in life where you're the champion where you end up You know bringing home a trophy so to speak whether it's enlarged weather. It's an athletics. It's how a person deals with That disappointment sometimes. It's even the agony of defeat. I see young people who've lost a game. And they they go into a tailspin. Your case you OUGHTA dream to become a major leaguer and you didn't make that dream come true but you've had some terrific experiences both in athletics as well as in your professional life and I'd like to know like to ask this question. What what did you do to make that transition and tell us what the transition was? So when I got released from the Tigers in the spring seventy six it was like okay now what I do. The rest of my life I knew that I could go back to school and get a degree But it was like what do I get a degree in It just so happen that in Follow seventy five one of my teammates Tommy Thompson and I drove to Vegas business. Trans of Magus and I'm the way they're on the way back by the time we got back. We had decided I was going to go to Tom. Do School and Tommy was gonNA come back to. Flan come to flint. He was from here And learn the optical business from my dad who was an optometrist and so we had this big master plan that after I graduate my time to go into business together. He would do the glasses part and the exams. Santa Pretty good at the time Fast forward You know a few months or whatever time. He decided. He didn't want to do that but I'd already of made Committed to going to school so I went back to school. You them And then Finished up at Unlv IN VEGAS And then one time to school. Now tell us a little bit about what went that ended up with that. What would the next was So I went to Optometry school of Farris and that was that was a great experience Metadata lifelong friends got a great education and my wife and I my wife was so Nebraska at first and we decided that we wanted to go back out west so after I graduated I interviewed with an ophthalmologist in the Reno Nevada and ended up getting the job and That's how I ended up in Nevada and live there for fifteen years and the great place to live and then eventually came back to flint. I did We unfortunately got divorced and Just seem like a right thing to do. At the time I moved back to flint. And that's been great Met My second wife Sam. She's a great lady and she's a great cook Which is Served us well here in the last few weeks but Yeah light life has been good to me. I didn't make it as I didn't. wasn't successful in pursuing my dream but have had great life now. Are you practicing optometry today? I'm just a couple of days a week and Brighton. That semi retired So just working part-time Jeff as we wind up here Is there any advice had provided a lot of entertainment for people in Flint area to follow intellectual and then to serve the people flint later in the field of optometry? Anything you'd give advice or suggestions to the people of Flint. And how is it? You feel about the city itself Well I'm a You know the lateen cleaves and that bunch They they're the flintstones but does a lot of flintstones before that And it was a great place to grow up I cherish all those memories I'm really lucky I'm back here and I get to see all a lot of my old friends that we've stayed friends over the years and yes it's been a Great Great Journey. Who were some of the greatest athletes that you had a chance to play with well in the baseball Ronald Floor? I think Ron probably could have been. Nfl running back to Last perish While I saw so many played with so many Ricky Leach was a few steps behind you enough class but Did you ever a chance play baseball with him? When I got released from the Tigers it came back to flint and we got to play summer. Baseball on this in a city league A couple of years and You know the Great Athlete obviously Ricky was one of a kind He I think he was. The first quarterback ever start as a freshman at U. of M. and. Thank you was. Third in. Heisman is senior year at Michigan and Yeah just You Know Ricky had that whatever it is that makes you special. He had you know He. He walked on the field with that attitude that I'm the man and the I'll be the best player on the field today. Jeffrey You're the best person on the field for many years as I watched you grow up both at Freeman and McKinley and southwestern and I appreciate All the things you've done to keep our classmates at one south Western high school together. I we didn't get a chance to talk about this today but Jeff regularly gather surround table of Darius snub flintstones of of all walks of life and It's been without without your Your effort you brought a lot of great memories back to me over the years and I'm really glad you could take a few minutes to talk to us here today. Thank you for having me appreciate it. He you're certainly welcome and I know you like everyone else of Been sitting around watching our beards. Girl BUT APOLOGIZES IN SHAME. Today s week for that matter. I think we'll get over that Been Anyway will encourage everyone to stay home until the crisis in silver. Thank you Jeff. All right stay safe okay. You too bye bye. Thank you take care.

Baseball Jeff Tigers football baseball Jeffrey You Flint Freeman School Scott Taylor Detroit Tigers Iowa Michael Wrong Clinton Great Flint Bill Joy Radio Free Flint NFL Detroit University of Michigan Flint basketball