One Sunday several years ago I was pulpit pinch-hitting at First Baptist Church of Ringgold, Ga., the small northwest Georgia town where I graduated from high school.
The deacons, as is the custom in many Baptist churches, gathered for prayer before the morning worship service.
My host for the day introduced me around although several were older but familiar faces from my youth. Moving around the circle I greeted each one with a handshake.
“And do you know Roy Hawes?” my host asked.
“Know him?” I replied as I shook his firm hand. “I have his baseball card.”
Roy smiled and talked about how that old Bowman card from the ’50s — with its stylish color TV framing — was not among the high-priced sports memorabilia of the time.
I thought of that exchange when learning of Roy’s death this week at age 91. My prayers are with his children Craig and Lynn and their families.
I also recalled the time in 2010 when I was showing an out-of-town friend Chattanooga’s historic Engel Stadium, the former home of the Lookouts. Roy was wandering through the old ballpark on a Sunday afternoon just reminiscing.
The longtime Baptist deacon was highly revered in the greater Chattanooga area for his many productive years with the Lookouts, once a farm team of the Washington Senators. He still holds the team record for the most all-time home runs.
In 1951, Roy had what sportswriters call “a cup of coffee” in the major leagues. He played in just three games with the Senators and had six at bats.
Though he put up big numbers in the minors, Roy had but one hit in his brief major league stint. But that is one more than the rest of us!
I’m glad to have his baseball card (pictured) among the images of the best-known heroes of the game in my own little basement version of Cooperstown.
In Ringgold and nearby Chattanooga he’ll always be an All-Star player and person who settled in and invested his life in his family, church and community. Rest in peace, Roy Hawes.