|The Guilford College Yankees, my 12 year old season. |
My Dad is directly behind Charlie in the gold shirt.
Can you guess which one is me? :)
When I was growing up in the Guilford College community just outside of Greensboro, NC, you could not help but know Charlie King. He owned and operated a Texaco gas station and a fuel oil company. He was a regular attender at Guilford Baptist Church. He owned and operated an insurance company. He was the manager of the Guilford College Yankees, a dynastic Little League team in the community. He was often seen driving around in this custom-built vehicle. Charlie was one of the pillars of Guilford College. You see, he had an unfair disadvantage. Charlie had been born without the use of his arms of his legs. His wrists worked, and he had some movement in his ankles and neck. But for the most part, Charlie, back in the 1960's, was supposed to be a burden on society. He never got that memo.
I knew of Charlie from the age of about 6, but I really got to know him when he selected me to be a Yankee in the Little League player draft when I was 8. I spent the next 5 summers learning baseball from a man who had never played. But he knew it all. So much of what I know about baseball and so much of my love for the game came from Coach King. He turned me into a good player, with lots of help from my dad and the other coaches. But baseball was not all he taught me. He taught me so much about overcoming obstacles and ignoring pessimists. The first time I ever water skied, Charlie was driving the boat- a custom made made boat with a stick for a steering wheel that only Charlie could drive. He had simply never considered saying "I can't." And it showed in every aspect of his life.
You see, Charlie King took his disability and turned it into an unfair disadvantage. He was never able to take anything for granted. He always had to work harder than able-bodied people who were trying to do the same things. Like Oscar Pistorius, he inspired others to greatness, and also like Oscar his success brought criticism and petty jealousy. Because of my relationship with Charlie, I have been a life-long believer in the power of positive thinking. I have always believed all things are possible if you have faith. I want to leave you with my one, signature enduring memory of Charlie. There was nothing...NOTHING...I have ever witnessed quite the equal of an umpire missing a call, seeing and hearing Coach crank up his motorized wheelchair, and watching him drive from the dugout to home plate to "discuss" things with the ump. The little man in the little chair could strike fear in their hearts. It was an honor to play for him and an honor to be his friend. I know Guilford College is not the the same without him. My question to you all today is this- Who is it in your life that has demonstrated that they have an unfair disadvantage?
Because of Jesus,