The June 2015 meeting of the Larry Dierker SABR Chapter in Houston last night, 6/22/15, at the Spaghetti Western Restaurant on Shepherd was both cozy and cool. Tony Cavender delivered an excellent book reviews of Charles Leehrsen’s new work, “Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty”, as a serious attempt to extract the true great baseball star from some of the most prejudicial things that have been written previously about him, and Bob Dorrill and Mike McCroskey both spoke about the upcoming award of $3,500 in college scholarship assistance that has been made possible by the sale of our 2014 chapter publication, “Houston Baseball: The Early Years, 1861-1961.”
Mike McCroskey presented a clever July 4th themed trivia quiz, one that eventually was won by one of “the usual suspects” in baseball trivia wonder, Greg Lucas.
Mike McCroskey also related a tale (I think) of his 1992 trip to the induction of Roger Clemens into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame., a year which also included the induction of Houston Buff 1951 slugger, Jerry Witte. (My apologies, Mike, if memory mis-serves here, but like many of the stories you tell, I walked away with the same old “second-guess” question: “Did Mike say he did that – or did he say someone else did that?” Please forgive me, Mike, and feel free to write a corrective comment., as you wish.
We also learned by photo distribution from meeting program chairman Jim Kruez that SABR member Tom White was once a “star pitcher” for Vanderbilt University back in the day. Like the fabled Clark Kent of comic book fame, mild-mannered Tom White looked quite a bit like “Superman” in those photos. He was quite fit in appearance and all dressed out in killer baseball duds from back in the day.
The highlight of the evening was our lead-off man speaker, former Houston 2005-06 Astros outfielder, Charlton Maxwell Jimerson.
The 35-year old Jimerson’s story is about the obstacles he had to overcome with the help of life’s healing forces (sometimes referenced by others as “The Grace of God”) working through other to achieve the success in life he has attained “against all odds.” Jimerson credits his older only sister Lanette as the real parent of his childhood, the one who helped him master the waters of living, first with two drug-involved parents on the streets of Oakland, California and then with a helter-skelter single mom who was still drugging and moving out of necessity from one crummy lace to the next. Sister Lanette was Charlton’s guiding light to the fire that lived within him for something better in life than his two older brothers were reaching from the chaotic “take it, if you can get your hands on it” lifestyle that awaited so many “parent-less” young black males on the inner city streets of America.
A talent for baseball was Jimerson’s vehicle to a destiny that goes far beyond the game itself. Had he not had this baseball this talent, he may have found a way to make it anyway, but that is an unanswerable question. It’s not what happened.
“Against All Odds”, the book, is about that struggle, challenge and victory in the life of Charlton Maxwell Jimerson, a still young man with great eloquence as someone who speaks deeply from his soul about the gifts that have become his road of life feast in ways that go far beyond the fact that he used his baseball talent to almost earn the college degree from Miami University that he now is completing at the University of Houston; that he wrote his name into the MLB record books when he homered in his first MLB time at bat as a pinch hitter for Roger Clemens; that he now faces a strong corporate future for his talent with numbers; that everything good for him is unfolding in Houston, the place that has grown into his home town since his days with the Astros; and that he will always have his memories of those two national collegiate baseball championships as a player for Miami, and the brief, however limited service time he spent as a one-inning defensive player for the 2005 only Astros pennant winner. And pile on the Clemens-pinch-homer in his first MLB time at bat the next season, and all of the great learning time he sent in the company of mentors like Jackie Moore, Phil Garner, and Tony Gwynn – just to name a few. – How much help does one guy need to get the key to the biggest city that life has to offer – the one that serves up self-respect in the truest meaning of that phrase?
In our view, SABR member Chris Chestnut asked Charlton Jimerson the question of the evening that opened the most light on this likeable young man’s character and basis for succeeding “against all odds”.
Chris Chestnut asked: “Charlton, when you are talking to young people today, what do you tell them you think is important for them to know?”
“I just tell them to remember that every decision they make and act upon is going to have consequences in their lives,” Jimerson answered, as he went on weaving his own mental trail of explaining what he meant.
We’ll have to put it in our own words: “Nothing we decide to do, or not do, comes free. In time, short time or long, everything we act upon. or fail to act upon, results in either a “ticket” to more choices – or a “ticket” to some place in which our choices are reduced to few, if any – to none. In the end game, we get as much freedom in life as we are willing to take responsibility for having because, like the two sides of the same coin, freedom and responsibility are the inseparable partners of the same entity. “
At the still tender age of 35, we get the impression from his own words that Charlton Maxwell Jimerson understands everything we just expressed in our italicized expression of this ancient wisdom .
That impression is sustained by Jimerson’s decision to again quote Tupac Shakur at the conclusion of his last page book acknowledgements as a way of taking responsibility for the freedom he had given himself to write and name his memoir:
“This is the realest shit I ever wrote, against all odds.” – Tupac Shakur
God Bless Charlton! – God Bless Tupac! – And may God Bless us all!