The Louisville Slugger
When I was in school in Louisville, Kentucky in the early '80s, I had a paper route. Each morning I delivered The Courier-Journal and in the evening The Louisville Times.
One of my customers was Mr. Reese. Most afternoons, he would meet me as I delivered his paper. We would chat about nothing, and I'd look forward to seeing him the next afternoon.
One Sunday, a man at church asked me where my paper route was. I told him, and he said, "Oh, that's where my friend, Herman Reese, lives." I told him I knew Mr. Reese and about how we talked to each other every day. In fact, we would talk so long, it would slow my schedule late each evening.
"You don't know who he is, do you? Have you ever heard of Pee Wee Reese?" Of course, I had heard of Pee Wee Reese, but I didn't know his first name was actually Herman!
I couldn't wait to see Mr. Reese the next day and every day after that for another two years, especially when it was time for Mr. Reese to pay his paper bill each month. He would always give me a $5 tip, which was half as much more than he owed. He said I was the best paperboy he'd ever had.
Among the scores of stories he told me, he said that two of his favorite memories were throwing the last out in the 1955 World Series to beat the New York Yankees, and standing on the infield with his arm around Jackie Robinson earlier in the '55 season when the Brooklyn Dodgers played the Cincinnati Reds and his family came from Louisville to see him play.
Later Jackie Robinson, a black man, said that Pee Wee Reese, a white man, made it a lot easier for him to face the racial hatred in Cincinnati when Pee Wee showed his friendship to him in front of the crowd.
Thanks, Mr. Reese, for your friendship to me, too.