Ask a Negro Leaguer

Week of July 20, 2005

Hey Joe: I own a mobile home in West Alton and I'm going to be installing a Jacuzzi. Would you recommend installing the tub inside or out? And what music would you suggest I play to attract the ladies to my tub?

Keith Sweat

I've never really cared for mobile homes, although I've lived in one for better than 30 years. But if I had the option between installing a Jacuzzi on the inside or outside of my home, I would certainly have it installed within. My type of music would include Marvin Gaye and Lionel Richie. It is no secret that women have "punked out" over the sound of these two guys.

Hey Joe: Which pitcher would you rather have start Game Seven of the World Series: A) Dock Ellis high on acid, B) Doc Gooden high on coke or C) Dontrelle Willis, high on life?

Steve Howe

Regarding Ellis and Gooden, while I refuse to endorse drugs, I have grown up in a society from an early age that referred to pharmacies back then as "drugstores." Therefore, America has been -- and still is -- afflicted by addictions. Prime examples are alcohol, cigarettes, steroids, Viagra, Cialis, etc. -- with the worst possible addiction being racism.

However, if I were to choose a pitcher for the seventh game of the World Series, it would be none of those three. I would narrow my list to Denny McLain, Dizzy Dean and Satchel Paige. McLain, a former Detroit Tiger, and Dean, a former St. Louis Cardinal, were two of baseball's best pitchers during their abbreviated heyday. Seemingly, both were unbeatable at the time. But "Satch" -- like Old Man River -- kept on rolling along.

Unfortunately, McLain wound up addicted to gambling, eventually to serve time in prison. Dean suffered an injury to his toe from a line drive hit back at him off the bat of Earl Averill of the Cleveland Indians that ended his baseball career. Subsequently he became a broadcaster of Cardinal games, though white schoolteachers tried to put an end to this. The reason being: In describing advancing baserunners he would say, for instance, the guy "slud" into the base. Teachers claimed he would destroy schoolkids' English. But in spite of all, he was the most popular announcer in the booth. I dug his dirty drawers, because he got his point over.

Regarding my starting pitcher, it would have to be Satch. All the other guys had a chance at a young age. Satch never did. Ultimately, the moral behind this story is: We all have undergone adversities.

Prince Joe Henry was an all-star infielder for Negro League baseball teams in Memphis, Indianapolis and Detroit throughout the 1950s. Now in his seventies, he lives in a mobile home in his native Brooklyn, Illinois (click here for an expanded bio). Direct questions on any and all topics to heyjoe@riverfronttimes.com. If we don’t like yours, we’ll hit Joe with our own.

 
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