Finding My Father's Voice: A Baseball Love Story
by Leigh Ann Walker
Ascend Books

"Everything I know about him was either told to me or I read in a book. I have no memories of my own."

In her early forties, Walker resolved to find out as much as she could about her father Verlon Walker, a minor league coach for the Chicago Cubs who died of leukemia when she was three. Walker soon located a mentor in George Castle, a baseball historian who took her under his wing, helping her contact players—some of them Hall of Famers—who knew Verlon and were glad to talk to his daughter. Some remembered her as the baby girl he doted on. In the baseball world, he was known as a good man, “fun to be around, easy going.” He was fair; he made good decisions. In his private life, he was known as a “goodwill ambassador” for his hometown of Lenoir, North Carolina, where a stadium bears his name. One woman who helped Walker in her search was a former Cubs’ secretary, Mary Deese, who shared a memory of seeing her dad on his death bed.

Walker writes with the sensitivity of someone who understands loss and wants to help others who might experience it. At times, the quest for information about her father was emotionally overwhelming, but Walker was inspired by the positives: she visited the hospital blood center named for her father, sat in the press box at Wrigley Field, and followed the Cubs through a successful season. In 2013, journalist Keith Olberman spread her story on ESPN. Personal photos enhance the narrative. Her journey, she indicates, was ultimately a fulfilling, joyful experience. She offers sound advice for all of us: make a “legacy list” for your children, in case you should pass on as Verlon did before you have time to share your views and wisdom with them. In the end, Walker says, in searching for her father she found herself.

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