By Tim Lacy, Special to the AFRO
The MLB ALL STAR GAME was a source of fond memories for me. I have spent a lot of time at this keyboard regaling you with stories of my time with Sam Lacy. Very few youngsters have the opportunity to share the experiences and meet the people with whom I was exposed because my Pop was a sports columnist. However, in all of the tales I have entertained/bored you with, I discovered I have missed a few moments.
This past weekend the MLB All Star game kicked open the door of another trip down memory lane.
Readers of this space are well aware that in his late years, I was constant companion and chauffeur for Sam, and this opened a few doors I could step through to add to my memories. Sam was at his desk until he died in 2003 at age 99 1/2. After having a stroke at age 97, I became a full time chauffeur for any driving out of his immediate neighborhood.
In 1993, the MLB All Star Game was played in Baltimore. Sam covered all sports, but baseball was his passion. Julie Wagner was a first line executive with the Orioles and she and her husband were fast friends with Sam. So much so, they named one of their sons after him. With this connection, we had choice accommodations for the festivities. Getting to the Park and finding a parking space was a piece of cake. The problem came when I realized we were about 100 miles from the stadium gates, parked on the football lot. No problem for me, but Sam was fresh out of the hospital where they had cut him from amazing grace to the golden opportunity. I had to regroup by driving Sam up to the gate and re-parking the car.
Along with the perk of being seated in the Box with Bill White (the National League President at the time), there were a few other unexpected gifts that came my way.
Along with meeting Hall of Famer Bill White (former manager for the Detroit Tigers), Sparky Anderson, the skipper for the American League came in the box to say hello. Sparky was my favorite manager and to my surprise, he not only spent some time in the box with us, he sat down and had a conversation with me. I don’t know what I said, but he understood my babble enough to respond like he was talking to someone with average intelligence. When Sparky left, “Pudge” Rodriguez came in the box and spent a little time before he left to help the American League put a 9-3 beat down on the boys from the other side. For years, my favorite catchers were Roy Campanella (Dodgers), Josh Gibson (Homestead Grays), and “Pudge.”
I was so excited I couldn’t focus until about the third inning. This was strange since I had been in the company of future Hall of Fame players all of my life. However, my best gift aside from sharing the time with my Pop, the Orioles gave us carry-on travel bags. Since then, every time I go more than 20 miles from my house, that bag is hanging from shoulder. My wife says that bag has enough frequent flyer miles to go from here to the moon and back.
My comment to the MLB All Stars, “thanks for the memories.”