Saying Goodbye to Lefty

My grandfather passed away early Saturday morning.  He lived 98 years and he spent those years living.  He’s had a huge and wide impact on my life and who I am.  A big part of that impact is reflected in my passion and profession.   I love sports and preparing people in athletic tasks and I owe a lot of that to my papa.

Lefty Ray Freeman was as you may have guessed a left handed pitcher and played for NC State starting in 1932.  He wasn’t a fire baller, but was good at locating pitches and had a fantastic curve ball.  In 1935 NC State had the opportunity to play an exhibition game against the Boston Braves who were returning from spring training with their newly acquired slugger Babe Ruth.  My grandfather came into that game in relief and got to face Babe Ruth (Wally Berger was also on that team).   I’ll let him share the story from there as he was a fantastic story teller and loved telling them.

Papa vs. The Babe

He was the last living person who could have claimed to strike out Babe Ruth, but he was much more than that to me.   As a child I remember playing catch with him and having him outside encouraging and coaching me to shoot basketball.   I remember him being at many of my games for football, basketball, and baseball despite the 45 mile commute.  I remember him teaching me how to pitch and that he still could throw pretty dern hard despite being in his late 70s.

He was a huge fan of sports and I got to spend a lot of time appreciating them with him.  I frequently went to NC State baseball, basketball, and football games with my papa.  He’d even attend swimming and diving and other Olympic sports at NC State on occasion.  I remember him buying lifetime right seats to Basketball and Baseball despite being in his 80s.  Someone asked him what he planned on doing with his seats considering his age.  In his typically optimistic manner he simply replied with a smile “I plan on sitting in them.”

Sports to him were magnificent games, but they were also filled with a vast array of people and characters.  Who they were, where they were from, and what they liked were as much a part of it for him as the games themselves.   Sports were about competition, but he always appreciated the people who were competing.   Sports were entertainment and interest for him, but they were also friends and community.

Lefty Ray Freeman taught me that.  I’ll always remember that and I’ll always remember my papa.

Olney “Lefty” Ray Freeman

FOLLOW US FOR MORE -Facebooktwitteryoutubeinstagram
SHARING IS CARING - Facebooktwitterredditmail

Speak Your Mind