A meaningful tribute to Louis Coleman’s grandfather

Louis Coleman stands during introductions at the Dodgers' home opener April 12. (Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Louis Coleman stands during introductions at the Dodgers’ home opener April 12. (Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

HLC

Harold Louis Coleman Sr.

By Jon Weisman

As you know, Louis Coleman’s grandfather, Harold Louis Coleman Sr., passed away last week. That’s about all we knew about the Dodger reliever’s need to go on bereavement leave.

But thanks to a column by Coleman’s uncle, Billy Watkins, in Jackson, Mississippi’s Clairon-Ledger, we now know much more.

Watkins’ piece is not only a reflection on his own uncle, but a reflection on our priorities, our choices and our lives.

… I asked Uncle Harold a few years ago something about my maternal grandfather, who I loved deeply. Uncle Harold was one of the few still alive who knew the answer and the only one I felt comfortable asking about it. Understand, it wasn’t concerning anything illegal or shameful. It was merely something I wanted to know about my grandfather.

“I’ll tell you,” Uncle Harold said to me. “But you have to drive to Schlater to hear it.”

It was his way of inviting me to come see him.

I never made that trip. So whatever he would have said to me was lowered with him into the black Delta earth late Saturday afternoon.

My ignorance, arrogance and apathy haunt me. …

Billy Watkins

Billy Watkins

Watkins also wrote this passage on Louis Coleman (that is, Harold Louis Coleman III):

… Hal and Kathy’s son, Louis, spoke at the funeral.

Louis is a relief pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I read on the team website the night before: “Louis Coleman has been placed on the bereavement list following the death of his grandfather. Also, the Dodgers called up … ”

One line. I wish all Dodger fans could’ve heard Louis’ tribute. He didn’t dance around the fact that his “Pappy” was “always right” and, at times, not the easiest person to get along with. He called him “a man’s man.”

Louis Coleman pitching Monday against the Marlins, in his first game back after bereavement leave. (Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodger)

Louis Coleman pitching Monday against the Marlins, in his first game back after bereavement leave. (Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

“But he had a way of making things simple,” Louis said. “I used to throw at a tater sack hung across a barbed wire fence when I was growing up. That was my target.”

As a member of the Kansas City Royals in 2011, Louis earned his first save at Yankee Stadium in New York and his first win at Fenway Park in Boston.

“And to this day, if I can’t find my control, I can hear Pappy saying, ‘Just hit the tater sack.’ ”

A little more than 48 hours after delivering that talk, Louis was back with the Dodgers, back on the mound in a one-run game against the Miami Marlins in the seventh inning. Louis was perfect. Three up, three down. He struck out slugger Giancarlo Stanton for the third out. I came out of my recliner and pumped my fist. …

You can read the entire piece here. Thanks to Watkins’ longtime friend, Dodger senior vice president of planning and development Janet Marie Smith, for forwarding it to me.

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