One of the most passionate baseball people I ever met was Clinton “Butch” McCord. We became friends after my dad and I were invited to join the Old Timers Baseball Association of Nashville.
Butch’s first words to me included his admiration for Jackie Robinson and what he had done for “us”. We began to speak on the phone on an on-going basis.
“Did you see the Braves win last night?”, he would ask. Or, “did you listen to the (Nashville) Sounds game on the radio?” Often he would turn to a teaching moment: “When I played…”
He loved to tell his baseball stories about playing for the Nashville Black Vols and the Baltimore Elite Giants. Moving to the white organized leagues, he played in places like Paris, Illinois in the beginning of his career and Victoria, Texas near the end.
In between he won two Silver Gloves as the best first baseman in the minor leagues, playing in Louisville, Denver, and Richmond.
It took a while, but he had moved away from the bitterness it had brought to him.
Sometimes it was hard to hear the truth, and Butch spoke the truth. It must have been difficult to tell. He had been bitter. It had been hard to deal with. Sleepless nights, sometimes with fits of anger, too often permeated the peace he found on the ball field.
What made him a great man was how he reacted. Baseball changed him. He no longer expressed any resentment, saying “That’s just the way it was”. Later in life it was more important to let children learn from his understanding.
I was fortunate to know Butch while he was with us. I learned from him. Those baseball conversations continued through the fall of 2010. He became seriously ill around that time, and passed away on January 27, 2011.
And I miss his calls.
© 2013 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.