During Friday’s Valenti and Foster Show I broke the news on twitter that a childhood hero died.
Pinch hitting great Gates Brown died at age 74 from a heart attack and it was sad news for me. Brown was a childhood hero for the Tigers because it seemed as if he always got a big pinch hit home run or single when the Tigers most needed it in 1968.
My partner Mike Valenti is younger and he was not from Detroit. I told him I needed to make a few phone calls because I wanted to write the obituary for The News on Brown.
“Who cares.” Mike said. “Nobody knows who Gates Brown is.”
I wanted to educate the young man but there was not time. A part of me understood what he said. For young people the “who cares?” attitude is common. They really do not care about athletes that played before they were born.
I did care. And I do believe a lot of people cared about Brown. He was loved in this community every bit as much as Miguel Cabrera and Calvin Johnson. He was nowhere the player they were but he played at a time where you could reach out and touch your favorite athlete.
Brown was at local watering holes sitting next to fans and at the local barber shop and super market.
I am in a unique position. I get to talk to old time heroes like Willie Horton, Lem Barney, Mickey Stanley and Bill Freehan. They are special if you got to see them play.
I do. And I am willing to bet a number of others care also.