A GREAT view of the field at AT&T Park in Chattanooga during their pre-season open house!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

BOOK: Willie Horton- The People's Champion

I picked this book up several years ago at the Toledo Mud Hens gift shop, and I am glad I did. It is hard to find a good copy now! Its a nice book, and I believe all copies are signed. For any Willie Horton or 68 Tigers fan, this is a nice item, even without the good content.
Luckily, its also a nice book to read. As most Detroit baseball fans know, Willie is a good guy. In this book, he talks about growing up in a BIG family. So big, he has trouble keeping up with his siblings. A brother once offers him a ride and a young Willie declines, as he did not recognize him at the moment! Willie gives some other interesting real stories involving the death of his parents from an auto accident. He talks about driving right in to the Detroit riots in 1967 wearing his Tigers uniform asking people to stop it. Baseball fan or not, I think any person will appreciate these very human stories.

Willie gives some great details about his 68 Tigers teammates, and talks about how having these characters around was like having a second family. He also talks about his feeling when the Tigers traded him away, and how he felt when he was able to again work with the Tigers years later.

Willie is obviously a fun guy, who expresses feeling grateful for what he has in life, his talent, and his family. He also seems happy and humble even about taking basic jobs after his playing days were over.

Being a classy guy, Willie really doesn't trash talk anyone. He does seem let down by a couple of managers who he felt pushed to trade him. Horton does mention that he felt these things were not right, but he doesn't run the managers down.

The book also talks about some of the race issues that were still going on in baseball- and in society while his career gets going. It is strange for me now to think that only a few decades ago there might be segregated water fountains at a minor league park. Willie mentions that he could not get a cab ride to a stadium once, because the cab he flagged down was for whites. He was told that he needed to call another cab company. I like to think that this kind of behavior occurred in our society MANY generations ago but Willie points out that it was more recent.

Willie does talk openly about the fact that he had to deal with racism. He received hate mail and even death threats. He tried to not bring it up much because he didn't want to encourage those making the threats, or to give them satisfaction about it.

Even though Willie was obviously affected by this, he does not dwell on it. He does a great job of giving the facts about what was going on at the time, but he did not allow the narrow mindedness of others get him down.

Horton comes off as a very optimistic and humble guy. He talks at length about his children, grand kids, and how proud he is of all of the members of his very large family. He talks about how fun the fantasy camps have been.

I hope you can find a copy of this book. It might be a good time for this book to get the new edition treatment.

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