April 19, 2024
Little League umpire Shelley Curtis White

Shelley Curtis White was a “no-nonsense type of man,” mentioned household and pals who had gathered to have fun the opening of the Little League season on Saturday and the naming of a ballfield after him — the identical one the place he had known as balls and strikes as a part of his sixty yr profession umpiring throughout the nation and world wide.

The discuss at this opening day was in regards to the pleasure of taking part in baseball and the  optimistic affect White had on a whole bunch of coaches, households and younger individuals who performed the sport he cherished.  

The sector in Southcrest on Newton Avenue now has a big painted likeness of White — and his identify in huge, daring blue lettering — on the constructing that serves as a refreshment stand and an announcer’s sales space. It was as if the late umpire was searching over the mother and father and the Little League groups, in addition to the previous ball gamers who attended the occasion.

In all, three Little league video games have been performed, complemented with basic ballpark meals, together with sizzling canines, sodas and nachos. As every participant got here to the plate, his identify was introduced and it was accompanied by encouragement from coaches, cheers from teammates within the dugout and members of the family within the stands.

“I performed right here within the early 70s, Shelley Curtis White was my baseball coach and my Scoutmaster,” mentioned  Dwayne Hill. 

And he provides, he was his godfather as effectively. “He was in my life earlier than I used to be born, and he was in my life till his final breath. I didn’t understand love till his love was gone.” 

Hill was essentially the most energetic advocate for naming the sector after “Mr. White,” because the umpire is respectively known as by others attending the season opener.

Hill careworn how vital it was to “observe the steps of those that did this earlier than us, to have a program the place children can come freely and be revered, dealt with with care, to really feel love.”

Leon Monroe performed on all-star groups on the subject within the Nineteen Sixties. He was joined on the sector earlier than the sport by different former all-stars throughout a number of a long time to honor White. Monroe remembers “it was a whole lot of enjoyable taking part in on the sector,  I’ve a whole lot of fond recollections and one factor to recollect is you bought to have enjoyable doing it.”

At one time baseball fell out of favor in the neighborhood, younger males have been drawn to soccer and basketball, and the variety of groups taking part in ball at Southcrest dropped. White’s son, Deron, mentioned he hopes the sector renaming will convey consideration to this manicured, enticing ballpark and encourage extra use of the sector named after his father.

“This was once a ceremony of passage for younger males in the neighborhood,” he mentioned. He remembers a busy ball park, the place  “after church on Sundays there is perhaps three to 5 video games.” However the world modified and he remembers coming to the sector years later, and “it was barren however immediately we have now the children right here once more and it’s simply great.”

Devin White is the grandson, a part of the umpire’s prolonged household that was in attendance.  “Oh man, it’s lovely. This will get me excited, watching my son working round and seeing what’s happening. And hopefully he understands extra when he will get older. It’s a lovely factor.” 

He remembers how his grandfather tried to instill in him the values that sports activities can convey to 1’s life — respect for the sport, for the foundations, for others you play with. 

“I didn’t perceive early however now being an grownup I undoubtedly get it,” he mentioned. “It, took some time but it surely’s right here now. He knew one thing. That’s for positive.”

Joe Harris, chief of Little League District 66, which Southcrest is part of, mentioned honoring White in addition to recognizing the all-stars from the previous was “all about taking part in the sport proper. Doing it within the grime. That’s what we’d love to do proper out right here within the grime.”