Wow, Steve, what a great story. I got chills reading it. How lucky you were. Rest in Peace Al.
This has nothing to do with The Kingston or Folk music, however we lost Bob Shane in January, and today another of my long time heroes. Al Kaline #6 Detroit Tigers passed away at age 85.
He went from High School to the Detroit Tigers, where he would play his entire career. A true gentleman, hall of famer, and one of the greatest right fielders ever.
I never heard anyone say an un kind word about him. R I P....
I was 8 years old when our doorbell rang. I opened the door and there he was. The youngest batting champion in Major League history...Albert William Kaline with his young wife Louise. They were contemplating buying the house next door and wanted to see our house and how it was finished. They did buy that house and became life-long family friends. If you lived in Detroit in those days there were two sports heroes. Al and the Red Wings' Gordie Howe.
Over the years, Al was so good to me. I was just the annoying kid next door....he gave me baseballs, bats, Tigers paraphernalia and a lot of his time. As I got a bit older, he would take me down to Tiger Stadium on game days and I had the run of the ballpark and the Tigers' clubhouse. When I started playing first base in high school, Al used his Wilson contacts to get me a Wilson A2002 first basemans' mitt.
I was in Vietnam in 1968, so I missed the World Series. I was able to listen to game 7 on Armed Forces radio and will never forget the feeling I had when Jim Northrup hit the ball over Curt Flood's head. I mention the World Series because in December of that year, I received a two-page letter from Al...it was so heartfelt...talking about spending time with my parents and just local hometown news. Of course I still have that letter today.
Then there were the boys...Mark and Michael. I was their babysitter for their toddler years. They have turned out to be wonderful and successful men.
When Al showed up at our Franklin Village house all those years ago, I was starstruck, but then I realized...at 8 years of age....that along with Al was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen. (I was 8 years old . Louise Kaline was the perfect wife and mother for a family where the dad was out of town much of the year. She and my mom became very close....as did Al and my dad.
Today Al Kaline died. He was 85 years old. This one hurts. God Bless his family and friends.