A nice couple from Hagerstown were in Buzzy’s Country Store this past weekend and somewhere in our conversation we discussed baseball in Hagerstown. I told them how I recalled Jim Palmer doing a rehab in Hagerstown when the Hagerstown Suns were an Orioles minor league team. They laughed and said “Well, way before that we were best known for being the site where Willie Mays played his first MLB game when he started out.” As our conversation moved on to other matters, I made a mental note to self “Check out Willie in Hagerstown.”
When I did so, I found these two videos with Willie discussing his Hagerstown experiences.
Hagerstown eventually made amends with Willie by having a day in his honor (click here.) At that event the Mayor of Hagerstown noted that they would rename the street in front of the ball park Willie Mays Way. However, that change eventually caused some churn because once the Mayor began to act on it, a group of Hagerstown Veterans objected to it. Ultimately the street remained named Memorial Blvd. Thus, Willie got a second dose of racism in Hagerstown.
Yet Willie, perhaps because he too was a Veteran having served 2 years in the Army, did not seem to mind too much that his name failed to make it onto the road in Hagerstown (click here.) (Then again, maybe Willie just didn’t want to have anything more to do with Hagerstown.)
Willie turned 90 this past May and is the oldest living baseball Hall of Famer. (Whitey Herzog is the second oldest and turns 90 in November. Willie and Whitey? I am sure that there is a joke in there somewhere but I won’t risk making it here.
Musically, Willie has been mentioned in several tunes thru the years. One of the first was from a group known as the Treniers who had Willie doing a speaking part in the song. Like Willie, the members pf the Treniers were from Alabama. Note that I couldn’t find any stories about them having ever performed in Hagerstown.
And since we’re talking baseball, Willie and what not, the O’s have won 3 in a row and are sneaking back up on being a 500 club this year. They got within 5 games of that goal a few weeks ago before a losing streak set them back. However, they have now notched consecutive come-from-behind wins over the Rangers and their bats look like they have come alive. So things are looking good for the Camden crew.
Meanwhile, the poor Nationals have lost 6 in a row and are on a pace to lose over 100 games this season. The saying “Washington – first in war, first in peace, last in the National League East” sure rings true doesn’t it?
P.S. Both these teams’ games are re-run on Buzzy’s T-V’s each afternoon. Stop in sometime for your baseball fix even if you know the outcome beforehand. When the home team wins, as always, it’s fun.