I woke up from a dream as vivid as the day it happened that day has been etched in my brain forever. It was a Saturday morning in early June, sun was shining, the birds were chirping, you could smell mitt oil from everywhere, everyone was breaking their new gloves that they had purchased at Cunningham and Relies Sporting Good store for the upcoming season. Saturday in 1963, the Arlington Heights Little League Baseball Program use to have their fundraising pancake breakfast at Arlington High Schools Cafeteria. Each player was to raise x amount of dollars to support the baseball program and anyone who was anyone always seemed to come out to this fundraiser, I could go on for days listing the people and parents that not only participated in this day but our father cooked all day long making those soft fluffy golden brown pancakes with Aunt Jemima Mix and on every table was Aunt Jemima bottles sitting just waiting to smother her pancakes with the most delicious syrup that ever addressed a pancake as far as I am concerned.
I got up early in anticipation of eating my heart’s content of pancakes since this was an all day affair and an all you could eat situation I didn’t want to miss a mouthful. I was and still am a sugar junkie so this was right up my alley like Christmas, the Tooth Fairy, Halloween and any other occasion to collect sugary items to devour. Any how as the day was winding down my father came out of the kitchen walked over to me and put his arm around my shoulder, he looked around the cafeteria and pointed to this man sitting by himself in the corner wearing a suit and tie. He asked me do you know who that gentleman is Tommy and as confidently as I knew how I said no dad I don’t. He took my hand and walked me over to this mans table, he was all alone eating in peace, no one was paying him no attention plus he was the only black man in the room so he stood out like a sore thumb as we approached he wiped off his chin, push back his chair and stood up my dad confidently, and cordially said “Tommy this is the greatest pitcher in all of baseball bar none, I would like to introduce you to Satchel Paige.” He extended his hand towards mine and my little hand got lost in his gigantic palm shaking my hand he said it was his pleasure to me you master Tom. Then my dad extended his hand and said I have seen you play more times than I can count and without a doubt you are the greatest pitcher I have ever seen throw a baseball. Satchel was a very shy man retorted thank you sir that is a very nice complement. My dad took me by the shoulder turned me around and we walked out of the cafeteria. I never thought much about meeting Satchel Paige until later on in life and even then it was a fleeting thought but today’s dream solidified a moment in time that will forever bind me to my father, his athletic prowess, and knowledge of a sport he loved. Thank you dad for taking the time to introduce me to one of the greatest baseball players ever and Aunt Jemima without you, there would have been no pancake breakfasts, no golden pancakes, no introduction and no memory of a great man…..my DAD.