Three members of the 1952 Harding High School baseball team have made a name for themselves both on and off the diamond.
As Father's Day was celebrated on Sunday, it is time to salute these role model athletes from the Warren of yesteryear.
The shortstop on the 1952 team said he was quick but not fast, which probably cost him a professional career. He did get a tryout in Winter Park, Fla., in January 1953 at the Washington Senators camp. But his love for the game took him through the high school athletic fields, across minor league press boxes and eventually to the Phoenix radio station where he broadcasted the spring games of the San Francisco Giants during the 1970s.
However, his dream of broadcasting major league baseball games never materialized as Jim Dyer said family responsibilities took him back to Warren for a career at Denman Tire.
Today, Jim teaches RCIA classes for converted and "reverted" Catholics at St. Mary's Church on High Street, a short walk from his alma mater where he idolized the first baseman of that 1952 squad, the legendary Bill White, who was a pioneer for the African-American in major league baseball.
Dyer said White was and still is a "man of integrity, character and class."
"He was the nicest gentleman you'd ever meet, but if you were not nice to him, he would let you know it. He didn't hold back."
According to his autobiography, White got that attitude from being the lone black man playing minor league baseball in the bush leagues of the Midwest and South. Often, he was not served his meals in restaurants as he had to sit on the bus while the rest of the team ate. He also was heaped with racial epithets from angry white fans as he walked the diamonds of the Jim Crow South of the 1950s. These events were chronicled in White's 2011 autobiography, "Uppity."
In the book, White talks about being born in a shack on the Florida-Alabama border and how his mother and grandmother wanted a better life for him. So they moved him to Warren, Ohio.
It was here that he excelled on the athletic fields.
Jim Dyer said White didn't sprout physically until his senior year and that is when he became senior class president who couldn't dance with the white Harding prom queen. He did star on the baseball field, even though Dyer said White wasn't passionate about the sport.
"For Bill, it was something to do until football season started."
Spoken like a true Harding alum.
But White's prowess at Harding and on the sandlots of Perkins and Packard park diamonds earned him a tryout with the New York Giants in 1953. His big lefthanded swing caught the eye of legendary manager Leo Durocher. Three years later, White debuted in St. Louis with a home run in his first major league at bat.
Thirteen years later after winning a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals, Bill called it quits. But he wasn't finished opening doors in the game.
He became the first African-American play-by-play baseball broadcaster, eventually making it to the Big Apple and calling the Yankee games alongside Phil Rizzuto for Steinbrenners' World Championship teams of the late 1970s.
After hanging up the microphone, Bill was not done making history. He became the game's first African American president of the National League in 1989. After five years and a long baseball strike, Bill said it was enough and retired for his home in the Philadelphia suburbs. He comes back to Warren for the class reunions, making it last year for the classes 60-year celebration.
White's picture hangs in the main lobby of Warren Public Library, but the humility of the man comes through in the book when he said he would have rather become a doctor, like his infield Harding teammate, second baseman John Vlad.
Dr. Vlad had treated many of the Trumbull County residents during their childhood years over the last five decades. He still practices out of his Elm Road Bazetta office and swaps stories with White when he comes to town for class reunions. Last year, for the 60th, they chatted with Jim Economos in a side booth at the downtown Saratoga restaurant.
Meanwhile, Dyer continues to stay close to the game by giving Ted Williams batting tips to his young 14-year-old grandson, a lefty pull hitter with a quick bat that reminds him of a young Bill White.
Yes, the cycle of life in Warren and the love of the game for father and sons.