Stavenhagen: Lou Whitaker’s Hall of Fame dreams start and end with a little town in Virginia

From Cody Stavenhagen at The Athletic on December 5, 2019:

The stories are all there, tucked away in plastic bins. They rest inside Jeffrey Whitaker’s home in Martinsville, Virginia. The bins are full of baseballs, and every one has an autograph and a date. Each ball has 108 red stitches and weighs about 5 ounces. They are all wound with the intricacy of a story, weighted with the question of a man’s legacy.

A few months ago, Jeffrey Whitaker and his uncle took out the bins and held the little clear boxes. Lou Whitaker gave the balls to his nephew a while back, and now the two men sat in Jeffrey’s house, looking at each ball, reading each signature, sharing some communion over horsehide and yarn. Whitaker collected the balls from fellow players throughout his career, and each name represents a face and a memory. On this day, as they reminisced about all the players who scribbled their names in ink, Jeffrey called to his teenage son, a promising ballplayer in his own right. Marlen, come here, you got to listen in

Lou Whitaker is among the best second basemen in baseball history. Throughout his playing career, he was also portrayed as quiet to the point of fault, a difficult man to know even in the most intimate circumstances. So when Whitaker starts talking, it is usually worth hearing.

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Originally published: December 5, 2019. Last Updated: December 5, 2019.