Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A baseball love story

I heard about this on the Keith Olbermann show on ESPN 2.  In my opinion, Keith Olbermann should be the voice of everything - all the news, sports and weather, and the voice that calls out the floor on the elevator, the PA announcer at the megastore who tells you about flashing blue light specials in the Tire and Auto Department, and, way off in the future, I would like it to be his voice that announces me to St Peter as I step off the celestial escalator for what might be a brief stay.

I have the highest regard for Mr Olbermann, as does he.  Here is the story he wove the other night.  A man named Verlon "Rube" Walker, a journeyman ball player in the 40s and 50s who turned out to be one of those guys much more adept at coaching baseball than playing it, spent years as a coach for the Chicago Cubs, and passed away at the age of 42 in 1971, from leukemia.

An odd  fact about Verlon Walker - his nickname.  About 10,000 ballplayers had nicks like "Rube," "Babe," and "Cookie," all of which are great baseball names.  But you would not feel so great about a neurosurgeon whose business card read "Dr Edward Bryce "Cookie" Furlington III, M.D., FACS," would you... No.  The odd thing here is that Verlon got the "Rube" sobriquet from his brother,  Albert Bluford "Rube" Walker, a ballplayer and later coach of much greater renown.  Kids today holler if they have to share a GameBoy or video screen with their brother.  Imagine having to share the same nickname!

Verlon and Leigh Ann, 1969
At the time of his death, Verlon had a three-year old daughter named Leigh Ann.  All grown up and married now, with a family of her own, Leigh Ann is on a quest to hear the sound of her father's voice.  She's appealing to radio and tv stations, and to anyone else who might have a recording of her pop speaking.

You can see the story here and contact her through that website if you happen to have such a recording.  It would be so cool to see her find one!

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