I Watched My Dad When We Met Jackie Robinson

Mr.Robinson holds a special place in my heart. I will never forget the look on my Father’s face when we met him.  Let me explain. 

My Dad, Lloyd “Do-Love” Hoggatt was born in Nashville, TN in 1896.  He moved to Minnesota in the mid 1920’s where he played professional baseball in the “Negro League.” At that time, a “Negro” was not allowed to play in the ‘major league.’  There are several books including “The Biographical Encyclopedia – The Negro Baseball Leagues” by James A. Riley, that discuss the plight of the professional Negro baseball player. 

Daddy played second base and was given the name “Do-Love” as many Negro league players had that came after my Dad; James Thomas “Cool Papa” Bell, “Satchel” Paige and Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe are only three of the thousands of players. I could only recall what I heard him say when he was talking to his friends and family. I remember him always laughing when he talked of adventures that he had when he was around his brother, my Uncle “BB” Hoggatt, about how he traveled throughout the south on busses, going from town to town, playing games against other teams. I didn’t know what the stories meant at that time, but I seemed to record them in my mind as being something important to him and somehow, I believed that he knew that I was listening. 

In the early 40’s, on a trip to Detroit to visit his sister, he met and married a beautiful young woman, my mother “Mommy”.  He decided to settle down and had three boys.

In the mid 50’s my Dad started playing catch with my older brother, teaching him the mechanics of being a good well-rounded ball player. In subsequent years he would teach each of us the fundamentals of each position on the field. At least once a week, Daddy took us to the ball field and hit what seemed to be the highest fly balls ever!  There were of course trips to the then Brigg’s Field (later named Tiger Stadium).  Baseball was a part of our lives and we loved It!

My brothers and I went on to play organized baseball in the minor league, little league and teener/Babe Ruth baseball teams in our home town of River Rouge, MI. I was a mediocre ball player at best, but my older brother developed a pretty good pitching arm and my little brother, well “Kermit” just nonchalantly knocked the cover off the ball whenever he felt like it. Daddy surely would not have minded if one of us would have played ball professionally. My Dad coached the US Post Office female softball teams for many years and he coached my little brother’s little league team in 1965-67, till the age of 71. Daddy just loved baseball. 

When I was 6 or 7 years old, a local newspaper announced that the great Jackie Robinson was going to be signing baseballs at a local department store.  Daddy’s excitement went through the roof!  It always interested me to see the things that made my parents excited. Daddy was just beside himself! On the day that Robinson was to appear, Daddy got up early, showered, and put on one of his best dress shirts (which he always buttoned to the top button). He had it tucked in his pants this day. There was a smile on his face that didn't go away. It was almost scary!

He packed me and my brothers into the car and traveled about twenty minutes to the store. There was a long line of proud dads with their sons, dressed in baseball uniforms, waiting to meet the great Jackie Robinson. 

When it was our turn, we stepped up to what seemed like a tall platform with a long table, where Mr. Robinson sat. This was the man, a great man and a major league baseball player that my Daddy had talked about with so much pride.  I glanced up at Daddy as he squared his shoulders and approached Mr. Robinson. I knew then what admiration and pride looked like. I had never seen this side of my Father. With a big smile on his face, he handed Mr. Robinson a baseball to sign, and said, "these are my boys, they play baseball.”

6 comments

  • chuck willard
    chuck willard
    That was a fantastic story Guy! Thanks for sharing that!

    That was a fantastic story Guy!
    Thanks for sharing that!

  • Joe Walker
    Joe Walker
    That's an awesome memory to share with those of us who recollect our father's. And for those of us who still enjoy listening to the ball game on the radio... Thank you Guy, Joe Walker

    That's an awesome memory to share with those of us who recollect our father's. And for those of us who still enjoy listening to the ball game on the radio...
    Thank you Guy,
    Joe Walker

  • Joanne Dawley
    Joanne Dawley
    What a wonderful story: full of history, admiration and love. Thanks.

    What a wonderful story: full of history, admiration and love. Thanks.

  • Kermit Hoggatt
    Kermit Hoggatt
    Wow, what a recollection big brother! Clearly, I was not old enough to remember the Jackie Robinson excitement, but I can image the marvelous experience. Now, those awesome fly-balls I remember; they essentially disappeared right before your eyes in the sky! I can certainly remember Daddy's wisdom, guidance and most of all love that developed all three of us into the successful and respectable men we are today. Daddy is the best father any boy could possibly have. Daddy, gone in the flesh, but never forgotten in spirit.

    Wow, what a recollection big brother! Clearly, I was not old enough to remember the Jackie Robinson excitement, but I can image the marvelous experience. Now, those awesome fly-balls I remember; they essentially disappeared right before your eyes in the sky! I can certainly remember Daddy's wisdom, guidance and most of all love that developed all three of us into the successful and respectable men we are today. Daddy is the best father any boy could possibly have. Daddy, gone in the flesh, but never forgotten in spirit.

  • M. Bruce Hendricks
    M. Bruce Hendricks River Rouge,Michigan
    Powerful memories of your Dad that you shared. As a person who grew up with the 3 of you l have fond memories of your parents. We were in the Boy/Cub Scouts together and my parents served as leaders with your parents. Regarding the baseball history we played little league baseball on the same team , the Indians coached by your Father and Mr. Douglas. And finally Iwill pull out a memory that is a little known fact that few would know. We use to Ice skate on the outdoor rink at the Beechwood Center. 😊😉🤗

    Powerful memories of your Dad that you shared. As a person who grew up with the 3 of you l have fond memories of your parents. We were in the Boy/Cub Scouts together and my parents served as leaders with your parents. Regarding the baseball history we played little league baseball on the same team , the Indians coached by your Father and Mr. Douglas. And finally Iwill pull out a memory that is a little known fact that few would know. We use to Ice skate on the outdoor rink at the Beechwood Center. 😊😉🤗

  • Guymon Ensley G.E.Q. Jazz
    Guymon Ensley G.E.Q. Jazz
    Thanks for the comments Bruce. Yes, I remember your Dad as well. Mr. Hendricks was the "Den Dad" I believe, for 'Pac 1655.' I do recall the "55" but not sure about the "16." We met at Northrup Elementary once month. The Den meetings every week and the Pac meetings once a month were kind of a highlight for me. Mommy worked with Mr. Hendricks and Mr. Patton (Greg's Dad) in keeping things going and to keep us occupied. The greatest group of parents/mentors EVER! Little league was a real treat as well. Kermit played under my Father, but I was under Mr. Douglas. I remember that I wasn't to good at it though. Daddy played pro ball in 'Negro Leagues' for years, and wanted at least one of use to make a career of it. But then Mr. Schultz came along and it was all over. We all were swept away by the music facet of life. Skating on the outdoor rink at the Beechwood center was another highlight of my youth too. Kermit and I had a ball doing that. However, my brothers and I, Corn and Cleevie, Greg Patton and "Monty" would have some intense hokey games on Friday and Saturday nights when no one was on the ice. Many didn't know that. We'd start around 8:00 till 10 or 11. We didn't know it at the time, but Daddy would be sitting in his car at a distance watching to see if no one bothered us. Yeah, those were great times Bruce, and the Rouge was a great place to be because we "have" great parents, and I mean GREAT.

    Thanks for the comments Bruce. Yes, I remember your Dad as well. Mr. Hendricks was the "Den Dad" I believe, for 'Pac 1655.' I do recall the "55" but not sure about the "16." We met at Northrup Elementary once month. The Den meetings every week and the Pac meetings once a month were kind of a highlight for me. Mommy worked with Mr. Hendricks and Mr. Patton (Greg's Dad) in keeping things going and to keep us occupied. The greatest group of parents/mentors EVER! Little league was a real treat as well. Kermit played under my Father, but I was under Mr. Douglas. I remember that I wasn't to good at it though. Daddy played pro ball in 'Negro Leagues' for years, and wanted at least one of use to make a career of it. But then Mr. Schultz came along and it was all over. We all were swept away by the music facet of life. Skating on the outdoor rink at the Beechwood center was another highlight of my youth too. Kermit and I had a ball doing that. However, my brothers and I, Corn and Cleevie, Greg Patton and "Monty" would have some intense hokey games on Friday and Saturday nights when no one was on the ice. Many didn't know that. We'd start around 8:00 till 10 or 11. We didn't know it at the time, but Daddy would be sitting in his car at a distance watching to see if no one bothered us. Yeah, those were great times Bruce, and the Rouge was a great place to be because we "have" great parents, and I mean GREAT.

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