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April 5, 2018 By Tom McKinney

A Lifelong Dodger Fan

I have been a Dodger fan since I was eight or nine years old. I lived in a small town in north Georgia and I did not have a radio. There was a pool hall about a five-minute walk away from our home so I would go there to get the Dodger’s ballgame scores.

The manager challenged my age so I had to think about how to change his mind. I have a cousin, five years older than I who had already made a name for himself at the pool hall and golf links. I talked to him and asked if he could get me a pass to enter the pool hall at night. He talked to the manager and got the pass for me. In those days, in the middle of the 1930s, this was a real treat as well as illegal! Later, when I was able to buy a radio, I didn’t have to go to the pool hall to get the scores!

At this early stage of my life I had been exposed to sandlot baseball. One of my favorite uncles, who happened to be a baseball fan, would drive me 70 miles to Atlanta to see the Dodgers and Yankees play exhibition games after spring training in Saratoga, Florida. I chose the Dodgers as my baseball team and I still follow their games on my computer . . . no more pool halls!

That was when I decided to be a baseball player for my life’s work. When I was 16 years old I was able to play fast pitch softball and American Legion baseball. As I was gifted with better than average speed and had a “great arm,” I was a natural to play center field and always hit over 300.

One night during the summer of 1946, after we had won our softball game, my two companion players in the outfield challenged me to see who had the best throwing arm. When my turn came I uncorked a pitch that sailed against the fence at home plate. Everyone in the ballpark heard the noise of my right shoulder breaking in the joint.

A surgeon patched me up and said that he had done his best. My baseball coach told me that the injury had derailed my baseball career hopes. To say that I was heartbroken is an understatement. The accident affected my tennis, swimming and football abilities as well.

My lifelong motto became “you can’t change the cards you are dealt; the solution is how you play them.”

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