Willie the Wonder

Yesterday I attended a news conference at Tigertown, where the Tigers kicked off festivities celebrating 75 years of affiliation with Lakeland. Willie Horton (above) spoke about his long history with Lakeland, including his first spring training, when he had to walk from his downtown hotel to the ballpark because white cab drivers wouldn't give him a ride.

Talking about the positive changes he has seen and the people who have helped him, Horton said, "It's all about people. We're all about one. There's no color in life when you have love."

You can see an article in the local paper at http://www.theledger.com/article/20110119/NEWS/101195026?p=all&tc=pgall

Afterward, I had the pleasure of shaking his hand and telling him how much my family and I had enjoyed seeing him play in Tiger Stadium. I also told him my mom was at game five of the '68 World Series when he threw out Lou Brock at home plate.

He said '68 was a great year and he hopes the Tigers have another one like it soon.


  1. Willie is a pretty facinating person. I first heard the story about him walking to the ballpark when I attended the Tigers' Fantasy Camp back in 1996 (crap, 15 years ago already??). Both interesting and sad. Thanks for sharing, Tom.

  2. Jeff, I also remember the story about him going out on the streets of Detroit during the 1967 riots, wearing his Tiger uniform shirt, and trying to calm the crowds.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Ooops -- screwed up the previous post...

    I was too young to remember any of that, but I also heard the stories. Walking out into the fray... that took guts... probably why he smartly kept his uniform on.