|Willie McCovey's statue greets fans on the way to AT&T.|
In early 1954, when I was a junior, I dropped out of high school to help support my family. In addition to my paper route, I tried working as a bus boy in a whites-only restaurant, but I quit after a week. All the things that make you cringe was normal talk then. You took it or you walked away.And the rest is history.
I soon found work at a chicken place. I was responsible for washing the chicken parts before they were put out for people to buy.
That December, I took the train [from Mobile, AL] to Los Angeles to visit my older brother, Wyatt. It was the first time I was away from Mobile.
With 12 y.o. actor Kurt Russell
in 1963 (WSJ photo)
I started looking for a job. One day I went to an employment agency, but the line inside was long. It was so hot that I fainted. I was probably dehydrated.
Failing to find a job that day was a blessing. Back at my brother’s apartment, the phone rang. It was Jesse. He was a “bird-dog” who spotted baseball talent for a San Francisco Giants scout named Alex Pompez. He said he told Alex about me. Alex wanted me to report to Florida where the Giants were trying out players.