As Tacoma bids farewell to Mayor Marilyn Strickland, so does Tillicum.
One day – one of the first days of our baseball practices for seven-year-olds in our tiny town of Tillicum – I received a phone call from Mayor Strickland.
At that very moment I was standing behind home plate, trying with the other coaches to help these little guys understand that running the bases meant to take off in the direction of first base, not third base. Otherwise there would be a great collision at second base which had just happened.
It was the first time ever most of these boys had played organized baseball.
Mayor Strickland had read the April 26, 2014 story on the front page – above the fold – of the Tacoma News Tribune, written by then-TNT reporter Brynn Grimley, entitled “Kid Players Make Tillicum Proud.” It was about our team, holes in the knees jeans – we didn’t have money early on for uniforms – and how the community here – sometimes called the poorest square mile in all of Pierce County – had come together financially to support these boys.
The community understood the importance of boys playing baseball.
So did Mayor Strickland. She’d read the article and wanted to help as well. Instead of sending money, I asked her to write a letter to the team on her stationery. She did. That letter is mounted on the wall in our little Tillicum Crushers ‘hall of fame.’
Mayor Strickland’s April 30, 2014 letter reads:
“I want to congratulate the Tillicum community and the Tillicum Crusher baseball team. As Mayor, I was very impressed as I read this article at how effortlessly the community came together in support of the team. The community coming together has enriched the lives of these young boys and is immeasurable.”
Of course, Mayor Strickland is right. Pictured on the front page in that article is a seven-year-old who scored the first ever home run in Tillicum Crusher history only because he never stopped running. What lessons about life, let alone what that memory will forever mean, he may have learned that day – about goals that are accomplished because we never quit, never stop running.
Mayor Strickland is known the world over for her accomplishments politically and economically. But she is also known, and fondly remembered, in our little corner of the world for having taken the time to express what is so significant in all things future: community matters.