Touch ’em all, Butch…Touch ’em all!

     I was sucker-punched by sad news today when I got home.  And yet, I feel selfish in calling it sad.  It could be called Glorious…and I certainly have less reason to be sad than his Christine.

     If you’ll look back to the post  “Teaser, Deux”  , you’ll find a picture and a few words from my meeting with Clinton ‘Butch’ McCord, former Negro Leagues baseball player.

     Mr. McCord passed away today.  All the information that I have been able to gather thus far is that he died peacefully….

Fitting…

     One of the foremost impressions I got from spending time with him was that he also LIVED peacefully.

     Mr McCord was one of the nicest, most accommodating, genteel, sweet- spirited men that I have had the blessed occasion to meet.  And, he LOVED baseball…

…Played the game when it was economically necessary to have a ‘real’ job in the off-season to make ends meet.  An American, no, hopefully a HUMAN ideal…Work hard, reap the benefits…survive the crashes…but keep working.  There’s a better day ahead!

     That’s good, in and of itself, but when I take into consideration the unwarranted and unjust humiliation that was constantly heaped upon the lives and backs of black men who were born in America in the 1920’s, it was indeed an uplifting experience to be in the presence of one whose vessel of blame was devoid of capacity…

    Just a head-shaking sense of not being capable of fully grasping why he and his people were treated in such a deplorable way… and here the term ‘his people’ is my own insertion.  I think it was even more inexplicable for someone like Butch who considered that ALL were ‘his people’.

     What would cause on the outside what he had no predilection to feel on the inside…?  I can only imagine what this man experienced, the turmoil that must have churned inwardly as he ‘turned the other cheek’ day after day, year after year.

But, as he told me when I asked about that aspect of his life,

“..there wasn’t any bitterness…That’s just the way it was….just the way it was.”

     He is a man. He is a man who lived a full life, without lament, without rancor, void of  judgement…

     or more…MOST… importantly…he refused to succomb to the venom that the times were trying to inject into the veins of his soul.  He fought against the flow of poison to his heart. 

Would that I could be so strong!

     As we looked through his scrapbooks, he could still name every player on his 1939 Elite Giants team.

     Not only name them, but he remembered each player’s statistics and personalities…I could tell that there were stories that even I would never hear…or understand.

     Mr. McCord called me several times after our initial interview, just to be certain that I had gotten the information that I needed… and to talk a little more.

     I would find myself searching for a pencil and a scrap of paper so that I could jot down the words and hopefully, the richness of the memories that he was sharing.

     We talked on enough occasions that I put his name and number in my cell phone contact list, where it shall remain ‘as long as a SIM-card shall last’.

     As a matter of fact, we had set a tentative date to get together and watch some baseball, and I had in my plans to call him this Spring to see if he would let me take him out to Greer stadium, the home of our AAA Nashville Sounds….

      Once again, I have been struck by how often we miss opportunities by planning rather than acting…

…How often we have only memories as a thread to hold together in our minds the pieces of a life that we could never really share, but were offered a partial glimpse into…

…and how that small part can be cherished.

Rest well, Mr. Clinton McCord, rest well. 

     My life has been greatly enriched by the brief time that we spent together, and the world is now slightly more impoverished by the loss of yet another strong, gentle soul.

     And somewhere in eternity, Butch,

     Go ahead and remind Satchell Paige that you ‘hit’ him at the age of sixteen…

and then… back off the plate…!!!

The opening picture is Butch as a nineteen-year old upon arrival in Baltimore and the team picture is a newspaper clipping, both from the McCord archives.

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~ by rkpowers on January 28, 2011.

5 Responses to “Touch ’em all, Butch…Touch ’em all!”

  1. you contginue to bring tears to my eyes with your writing…nice close portrait too.

    Like

  2. Thanks, Jim.

    Like

  3. Very warm sentiments Randy. I’m sure he would be pleased. BTW, I would love to be a fly on the wall for his reunion with Satchell! On the other hand….I think I will bide my time.

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  4. Laudatory comments about a man who must have been an incredible human. He represents the epitome of having a true loving attitude. I’m sure his widow would appreciate receiving a copy of this tribute. Keep up the good work. Pap

    Like

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