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Archive for the month “June, 2020”

A Life Saved!

You have probably heard that Al Kaline the former Detroit Tiger baseball great passed away this year at the age of 85.  What you might not know is that without his former teammate Willie Horton he probably would have died 50 years earlier.  Al Kaline became a legend in Detroit Tiger history when at the age of 20 he won the batting championship.  He is the youngest player in history to win this coveted award even to this day.  Kaline spent his entire 22 year career with the Tigers.  At the time of the day of the collision Kaline was in his 18th season.

In the history of major league baseball no player has died on the field during a game, but 45 years ago, Tiger legend Al Kaline nearly earned that distinction but […] Detroit Sports, Detroit Tigers Baseball, Detroit Michigan, Flint Michigan, Baseball Players, Baseball Cards, Baseball Photos, Sports Photos, Jaw Clenching

Willie Horton got called up to the Tigers in 1963.  The Tigers were slow to integrate blacks into their organization.  Although they had a couple of African Americans who were on the team before him, Willie was the first star the Tigers had.  Being the first black star of the Tigers, Willie developed a fan following!  In fact during the Detroit race riots in 1967 Willie showed up after a game, still in his uniform and tried to make peace while standing on a car.  It was a hectic situation as buildings were burning all around and rioters were not hesitant to ignite destruction.  It was Willie’s presence that helped to calm some of the hatred.  Willie had a big heart filled with love and he cared for the city that had always been his home.  He also cared for his teammates because they were “his family”, as he so eloquently stated.

Willie was counted on to do what needed to be done.  Usually on the ball field it was with his bat.  Willie’s physical strength was his strength.  As a 16 year old high school player in 1959 10th grader Willie hit a ball in the Detroit Public Schools championship game that almost went out of Briggs Stadium.  It landed on the roof and bounced back into the stands in right center field.  His mighty blow happened in the very first inning and was missed by most of his Northwestern High School classmates.  They didn’t start arriving at the park until later in the game as the Principal did not let them out early from school.  Two years later Briggs Stadium was renamed Tiger Stadium and as an 18 year old Willie Horton signed with the Tigers.

16-Year-Old Willie Horton's Monster Blast at Briggs Stadium

Willie played catcher in high school but the Tigers signed another promising catcher from the campus of the University of Michigan named Bill Freehan.  Willie was switched to the outfield.  He learned how to play left field adequately and that was enough for the Tigers who cherished his big bat in the lineup.  I remember watching Tiger games on TV in 1965.  When Willie hit a home run they had a nickname for him that they flashed on the screen over and over.  He was “Willie the Wonder”.

Although Willie was known for his bat he was a dependable fielder.  When he got his glove on the ball he caught it.  I’ll never forget one time in 1965 when the Tigers were playing the Cleveland Indians.  It was in Cleveland and Willie as usual was out in left field.  One of the Cleveland batters hit a high fly way back over Willie’s head.  Willie went back to the wall and was looking up.  He leaped for the ball but apparently it was out of his grasp.  That is what George Kell, the Tigers announcer,  concluded as Willie walked somberly away from the wall with his head down.  The Cleveland fans were all loudly cheering and the batter was trotting his home run out around the bases when something very strange occurred.  To the dismay of the cheering crowd and the happy Indian player, Willie straightened up from his slouch and threw the ball back into the infield.

Detroit Tiger Willie Horton tried to bring peace during the 1967 riots

Willie was also responsible for the turning point in the 1968 World Series.  It was in the 5th inning of the 5th game and the Tigers were down to the Cardinals 3 games to 1.  They were also losing to the Cardinals in this game 3-2.  Lou Brock the Cardinals speedy outfielder was killing the Tigers with his bat.  He was on second base and Julian Javier was the batter.  Javier hit a line drive on one bounce to Willie.  Although it looked hopeless with the speedy Brock running Willie threw without hesitation to home.  The ball took one bounce and came right to Freehan just as Brock got there.  A collision occurred and Brock was called out.  The Tigers went on to win that game and the next two to win the World Series.  It was Willie who once again made the unexpected difference making play!

https://www.vintagedetroit.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Brock-Freehan-1968-World-Series.jpg

As much as that play was important to the baseball team Willie made his most important play two years later.  On May 30, 1970 Willie was in left field.  A ball was hit by a Milwaukee player between Kaline and the center fielder Jim Northrup.  They were both yelling at the top of their lungs that they had it.  Unfortunately the crowd was loud and neither of them was heard.  With both players running at full speed and the ball between them they collided in a horrible thud.  Northrup was stunned and he wobbled to his feet looking for the ball.  The Milwaukee batter ran out an inside the park home run.  Willie was racing from left field.  His first thought was to help any way he could to get the ball back to the infield.  When he saw the play was hopeless he kept running at full speed to a dead like Kaline.  When Willie reached him he noticed that Kaline was turning blue.  Willie did not hesitate.  He had CPR training as a youth when he was a golden gloves boxer and remembered what to do.   Willie compressed Kaline’s chest, forced his jaw open and with his finger he pried Kaline’s tongue out of his throat unblocking his air passage.  By the time the medical people had reached him Kaline was breathing freely again.  He was put on a stretcher and carried off of the field and to a nearby hospital.  Kaline spent the night there  as they ran tests on him.  He was able to return to the Tigers shortly thereafter.

Three months later Horton was honored for his heroics in a pregame ceremony.  He was given a plaque by Dr Harold DePree from the Michigan Heart Association  With Kaline standing next to him the plaque was read.  “For seeing what needed to be done and doing it, thereby quite probably saving the life of his teammate Al Kaline. Unconscious after a collision in the outfield, Kaline’s jaws were locked and he was turning blue. Horton forced open his jaws, allowing air to reach his lungs. Speed in applying this first step in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation is all important.”

Today the plaque hangs in Willie’s recreation room and it is his most cherished award.  Perhaps this loving story of a black player and his white teammate should be remembered even more in the times we are living.  A true love story going far beyond the call of duty resulting in a life saved.  Willie expressed his feelings years later in a most humble way.  “Al was part of my family and you do what you have to do to help anyone.”

Former Tiger Willie Horton stands next to his awards in his Bloomfield Hills home in 2020.

 

 

 

Not An Orphan

At first it was a surprise, then a shock, and then a spirit of concern.  That was what I heard from the voice of my wife as I was sitting in the other room.  She had looked out our patio door and saw a baby deer looking over our deck.  We have seen baby deer before but always with at least one parent and sometimes two next to them.  This little deer was all by itself and it was not very strong.  It’s little speckled spots told us it was very young.  When I got to the door the little deer was gone.  We walked out to where it was seen looking over the deck and to our worst fear we found it laying at the base of the deck.  Half of it was under and half was on the outside.  It wasn’t making any noise being very still.  Quietly we slipped back into the house and I took a turn for the computer room.

So cute. ~ETS #delicatethings | Animais bebês mais fofos, Animais ...

So what do we do when we don’t know something?  Of course we Google it.  My first thought was what does a baby deer eat?  I also thought about putting a bowl of water out so the little thing could drink.  I did Google the food thing but I also Googled what we should do with a stranded baby deer?  I found an interesting and surprising answer.  We should not do anything.  It is likely that our deer was not an orphan.  It was probably placed there by it’s mother to wait for her until she finished eating or whatever she planned to do.  Every couple of hours I went out to see if the baby deer was still there.  Each time to my dismay the little thing was either sleeping or looking about. In  either case it acted like it didn’t have a care in the world.  The Google page asked some questions about the condition of the baby deer.  Was the deer moaning or in misery?  Was it in distress in any way?  Our little friend was not only not in agony or distress it seemed to be in perfect peace with the situation.  It wasn’t shaking in fear or moving around.  It acted like this was a perfectly normal experience and it was being perfectly behaved knowing that everything would be alright.

It’s in times like this your mind starts to wonder.  I wonder why deer don’t use their parents like we do?  How often we had dropped the kids off at Grandma’s house while we went to work.  We would never think of leaving the kids alone in the house.  Perhaps grandma and grandpa deer want nothing to do with babysitting.  Maybe they feel like they did their part with their young and don’t want that kind of responsibility now. What if mamma dear forgets where she dropped off her kid?  It seems like it could happen.  After all there are so many yards and houses that things could start looking the same.  These kind of thoughts can easily go through your mind as every couple of hours I tiptoed across the deck and still saw the baby deer in the same position it was the last time I checked.

My parents died 18 days apart in 1997.  Dad went first and it was expected.  He was sent home with his cancer to die because they could do no more.  In the coming days we found out that mom had inoperable cancer.  They were going to try to shrink the cancer with chemo therapy but she died of kidney failure as the cancer blocked the path.  I remember my sister and I feeling like orphans.  Just days before we had both of our parents and suddenly we felt all alone.  It is amazing the things that we take for granted in having parents.  They are such a good source of information and counseling.  My dad was really good at helping with the physical things.  If we had trouble with the car or if something was not working right in the house it was dad we called.  He was always quick to come over too carrying his tool box and ready for anything.  Mom was always so good at the counseling side.  She had a way of talking about every problem and comforting us mentally.  She was also very good at praying for us and many times I remember her praying on the phone for whatever situation came our way.  It’s natural that when something comes up, especially after the beginning, that your first thoughts are to call mom or dad.  Suddenly the sad realization hits like a brass knuckle.  Mom and dad aren’t here anymore to help me.

Days before we saw a grown up deer laying comfortably in our bushes.  In looking back we figure that it must have been the mother. She just stayed there hours at a time and she did blend in with the surroundings.  Our thinking was that when she left her little baby she planned to have it laying in the spot where she had such a peaceful time.  However, when the baby was first seen it wasn’t in her spot.  Maybe the little one wasn’t as comfortable there as it’s mother was.  Maybe it wandered down toward the deck to find a more comfortable spot.  Then you wonder if mom comes back and her baby isn’t where she thought it would be if she would panic?  Would she possibly miss it and assume something bad had probably happened?  Would she leave in grief regretting that she left her little one in harms way?

The Kindest Care | Missouri Department of Conservation

After hours of waiting, wondering, and being concerned,  I went to Google again.  I wondered how long a deer would leave her baby alone?  I found out a surprising fact.  There are times that babies might be left up to 12 hours.  I think it was around 10:30 in the morning when the baby deer was discovered looking over the deck.  Twelve hours from that time would be 10:30 at night and it would be totally dark.  All we could do was wait and see what happens.  Since becoming a Christian years ago I have heard the phrase “waiting on the Lord.”  I guess this deer experience made things a lot more clear what this meant. God has his own timing on things and sometimes we are to just obey what he wants us to do.  Sometimes that obeying means to do nothing.  In a Bible story about two sisters one of them Martha was busy with doing work duties around the house while the other one  (Mary) was content sitting at Jesus feet and listening to his wisdom.  After awhile Martha came to Jesus and she was frustrated.  Martha was upset that she was doing all of the work and Mary was not helping.  Jesus could have told Mary to get up and help Martha, but instead he commended her on doing the right thing.  Our Christian walk isn’t measured by how busy we seem.  It is measured by how obedient we are.

I couldn’t wait any longer.  It was just after 6 the next morning and it was just getting light out.  I slipped some shoes on and tiptoed across the deck and down the steps.  When I looked over to where the deer was it was gone.  Obviously mom came back and found her baby.  It might have been in a different spot but they have a way of communicating.  Her little baby knew her voice and when she called her baby answered!  In the same way we can be tuned in to God’s voice.  He has not left us here on this earth to be orphans.  As believers he has sent his Holy Spirit to dwell in us.  It is his voice much like the voice of the mother deer, that we need to listen to.  Like the baby deer, we need not ever be afraid or fearful because we know that everything will be alright!

454 Best Baby Deer images in 2020 | Deer, Baby deer, Animals beautiful

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Deuteronomy 31:6 New International Version (NIV)

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

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