Thursday, April 04, 2013

45 Years Ago Today

April 4 Martin Luther King Jr. spends the day at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis working and meeting with local leaders on plans for his Poor People's March on Washington to take place late in the month. At 6pm, as he greets the car and friends in the courtyard, King is shot with one round from a 30.06 rifle. He will be declared dead just an hour later at St. Joseph's hospital. After an international man-hunt James Earl Ray will be arrested on June 27 in England, and convicted of the murder. Ray died in prison in 1998. Robert Kennedy, hearing of the murder just before he is to give a speech in Indianapolis, IN, delivers a powerful extemporaneous eulogy in which he pleads with the audience "to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world." The King assassination sparks rioting in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City, Newark, Washington, D.C., and many others. Across the country 46 deaths will be blamed on the riots. On this day, we played a non-league game against Amityville High on their field. This is the same Amityville from the Amityville Horror series, but this was still 5 years from that event. It would be our only loss of the pre-season. You will read the full story in this book later, but here is a tease. We were playing a mostly black school and we had only one black player. We were poised to take the lead in the game when our left-fielder who was our only black player, came to bat as the go ahead run in the final inning with the bases loaded. As you will learn later on, this is when the umpires called the game for darkness with Steve at the plate and a full count. I only figured out the ramifications of our game and rapt departure years later set against the backdrop of the King murder. My teammates weren’t quite as savvy. Even Steve, who was making history while living history, smiled when I approached him a few times about his thoughts. “Truthfully, Steve. I don’t remember a single thing about it. And the scary thing was, he was telling the truth.

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