Research on SIXTY-EIGHT

May 5, 2011

Tags: Sixty-Eight, Willie Horton, Detroit Tigers, 1968 World Series

The two teams that met in the 1968 World Series -- the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals -- were among the most racially diverse institutions in the land at the time. Willie "the Wonder" Horton was among them. The Tigers' outfielder grew up in the Detroit projects and tried to stop the riots in the Motor City in the summer of 1967.
I asked him recently how he was able to play at such a high level despite rioting and assassinations going throughout the country. He replied, "I didn't go away from home."
I said that was impossible. Ballclubs play have of their games on the road, sometimes spending weeks away from home.
Horton smiled and told me about how he went out of his way to make good friends in every American League city the Tigers visited. Good enough friends that he could have dinner with them, even bunk out on the couch in their homes.
"In that way, I was never away from home," he told me.
The year 1968 was a difficult time in our country's history. But how some of the top athletes of that time persevered can still be a lesson today.