Winter 2011: From Our Readers
May 6, 2011
“A Memorable Occasion”
Imagine my surprise when I received my copy of this month’s WM [Fall 2011 “Milestones”] and the cover is a portrait of my old baseball coach!
Although I refer to Hilton Smith as my high school coach, we did not have high school baseball in Kansas City, MO. However, we did have a city-sponsored league that operated during the summer and in which most high school players participated. Hilton Smith Sr. coached the Bulldogs, which was the dominant team in this all-black league.
I later played for a team that brought in “Bullet” Rogan to give me special instruction as a pitcher. Both of these ex-Kansas City Monarch stars, Rogan and Smith, are in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
I grew up with both of Hilton Smith’s sons, DeMorris (Mickey) and Hilton, Jr. Mickey and I were basketball teammates. One of my regrets is that I did not try to recruit Mickey to come to Wabash.
When Hilton Smith, Sr. was inducted into the Hall of Fame, I was president and CEO of ProLiteracy Worldwide, based in Syracuse, NY. The family contacted me and invited me to join them as their guest at the induction ceremony.
It was a memorable occasion in many respects. I met and conversed with Sparky Anderson and Yogi Berra. It was a routine celebrity conversation until I asked Berra, “Was he really OUT?” Baseball fans will recognize immediately the controversial play I alluded to when Jackie Robinson stole home against Berra. Berra’s eyes lit up and his hands came up for emphasis, and he said vehemently, “Yes, yes. He was out!”
I also got the autograph of my long-time hero, Fergie Jenkins of the Chicago Cubs.
My friend Mickey delighted the crowd at the induction ceremony by upstaging Governor George Pataki. During the Governor’s welcoming remarks, he congratulated all of the inductees except Smith. In his acceptance remarks on behalf of the Smith family, my friend said that the Governor continued a life-long pattern for his father, who labored in the shadow of the great Satchel Paige with little recognition, but who was finally getting the attention he deserved by his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
—Robert Wedgeworth ’59, Chicago, IL
Editor’s Note: After writing this note, Bob Wedgeworth contacted artist Phil Dewey ’89 and purchased the original portrait photographed for our cover. He plans to donate the work to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City to honor Hilton Smith and in gratitude
to the Smith family for inviting him to join them for Smith’s induction into the Hall of Fame.
I enjoyed the retirement tribute to Dr. David Krohne, “In the Field” (WM Fall 2010). Dr. Krohne’s story of his mentor Jim Patton, the laid back UC Berkeley professor, and his subtle assault on his uptight Harvard colleague brought back many fond memories of my lively experiences as a biology major.
We really were in the field quite often. We took trips to the Everglades, Indiana Dunes, and local areas as well. One trip had our class with Dr. Krohne and Dr. Polley walking through Pine Hills Nature Preserve, not too far from Wabash.
Polley and Krohne would lead the trek and discuss biology and ecology. They would identify flora and fauna by both their common and Latin scientific names. They would explain the role each had
in the ecosystem, sometimes throwing in some obtuse minutia on the cellular level. I think they did this mostly to impress us students of their prowess.
Near the end of the hike, I came across an old discarded pint bottle, empty and weathered. I held it up and asked Dr. Krohne, “What is this?”
Without missing a beat, he said, “Meleagris gallopavo. Wild Turkey.”
I had found my mentor.
—Brian Tonner ’84, Sugar Grove, IL
“The Most Beautiful Story”
Thank you for the article “Founding Brothers” [WM Fall 2010], which I treasure, even as a 1986 initiate and 1989 grad.
This [rebuilding of Phi Psi at Wabash in the late 1940s] is the most beautiful story our chapter has to tell—the dedication of Eddie Knight to the chapter’s rebirth and the handpicking of this group of individuals that refounded us and has been our chapter’s strength ever since.
I don’t believe it is hyperbole when I say that this bunch has built our chapter house three times—once with their hands, per the article; a second time in the late 60s with their voices, burning
up the phones for contributions to the building that is the shape of Phi Psi today; and most recently, with their wallets, contributing disproportionately to the chapter house renovations that were completed roughly five years ago.
We have a saying in Phi Psi that “a burden borne by many is a burden lightly borne.” This group has carried us a long way.
—Terry Hamilton ’89, Troy, MI