Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Willie Roaf's father knocks one out of the park - ESPN

I find football players entering the Hall of Fame tend to do it more humble than baseball players -- who act as if they are being anointed to sainthood.

I can see why Willie Roaf is a Hall of Famer today -- he comes from Hall of Fame lineage. You probably will not see this speech anywhere except this story by Wright Thompson. The father was a dentist and the mother, a state Supreme Court justice. The background of many of the family members almost makes Willie Roaf seem like the ne'er do well. AWESOME STORY!!


"One of the things that saddens me is that his mother is not here," he says. "In person ... She's here in spirit. But she did so much for the development of the character of this child, and she put so much into all these children. Even though she was truly an academic and an intellect, she did love sports. And this would just make her heart glow."

The conversation is about to move on, but Cliff is still thinking about the names from Phoebe's prayer, remembering those people, and the ones who came before them, the long lines of invisible ghosts that trail each one of us. He thinks about all of their secret desires and struggles, and what started as a hilarious recounting of Big Willie stories is about to become something else entirely.

"I want you to get the essence of what she just said," he says. "In order for you to understand what she said, I have to go back a little bit in history.""

He apologizes before he even begins, trying to stop himself from turning this into a sermon. The rest of the family sees the passion on his face and falls quiet. The floor is his.
"It starts a long time ago off the west coast of Africa," he says.
He tells of slave ships, people crammed in so tight they couldn't sit up, how the "cargo" was thrown overboard if they got sick or if an anti-slave vessel approached. Sharks, he says, learned to follow the boat, and when he describes it, everyone can see the fins lurking in the wake.
The room is silent.
"When we got to America, we had absolutely nothing," he says. "We had no clothes, no food, no place to go. And now I'm gonna get into my preaching mode. … One of those slaves heard a name, and I don't know what your religious affiliations are, he heard a name called Jesus. Those people that had nothing had God."
His voice cracks for the first time when he says "Jesus."
"And because they called Jesus," he says, his voice cracking again, "we are sitting in this room and Will Roaf is gonna walk across that stage. Because of Jesus. I know there are people who feel so sophisticated and they are so … "
Cliff Roaf is crying.
"We didn't have anything but Jesus," he sobs, "and Jesus answered the prayers starting way back yonder, and when Will Roaf walks across that stage, for the Layton family and the Roaf family, he is a personification of God's majesty. For all of my people that grew up as sharecroppers and woodcutters, for all of those people, Will Roaf is the essence of their hopes, their aspirations, and thankfulness to this entity that we call Jesus. I'm gonna get up, because I get a little bit emotional."
Someone makes a joke about it being dusty in this hotel room.
"No," he says, his voice strong again, "it's not dusty. Ain't no dust in my eyes. It's an emotion of happiness. It's an emotion of thankfulness because this wonderful creator did not forget what he promised to generation after generation after generation. God promised people in our families that if we loved him, and served him, and honored him, he would bring blessings to our children and their children and their children. That is what is the essence of Will Roaf."
Phoebe Layton hugs him. He wipes his eyes with a tissue. He remembers his own father, who worked at a lumberyard, riding a bike or walking every day, making $12 a week. "From my father to me to Will Roaf," he says, "that went to over $4 million a year. Only in America will you have a grandfather making $12 a week to a grandson making millions. Only here in America."
His voice cracks again, and he seems one powerful memory away from being unable to continue. He can see his childhood in rural Arkansas, and the road from those hot fields to a hotel room in Canton.
"See, I'm a cotton chopper," he says, fighting the sobs. "That's what I am. I grew up in a four-room shack. I didn't even have a bed to sleep in. I ate out of pot tops and drank out of jelly jars."
Then he stood up straight and walked out, headed downstairs to a Hall of Fame luncheon with his son -- the grandson of a man who chopped wood for two dollars a day.

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Giants Top Minor League Prospects

  • 1. Tyler Beede 6-4, 215 RHP from Vanderbilt projects as top of the rotation starter when he works out his command/control issues. When he misses, he misses by a bunch.
  • 2. Chris Shaw 6-3. 230 1B Lefty power bat, limited defensively to 1B, Matt Adams comp?
  • 3. Bryan Reynolds 6-2, 210 OF Switch hitter with average speed and polished hitting approach. Fits Giants mold of high-floor, low-ceiling prospects.
  • 4. Stephen Duggar 6-1, 170 CF Another toolsy, under-achieving OF in the Gary Brown mold, hoping for better results.
  • 5. Sandro Fabian 6-0, 180 OF Dominican signee from 2014, shows some pop in his bat. Below average arm and lack of speed should push him towards LF.
  • 6. Aramis Garcia 6-2, 220 C from Florida INTL projects as a good bat behind the dish with enough defensive skill to play there long-term
  • 7. Heliot Ramos 6-2, 185 OF Potential high-ceiling player the Giants have been looking for. Great bat speed, early returns were impressive.
  • 8. Garrett Williams 6-1, 205 LHP Former Oklahoma standout, Giants prototype, low-ceiling, high-floor prospect.
  • 9. Heath Quinn 6-2, 190 OF Strong hitter, makes contact with improving approach at the plate. Returns from hamate bone injury.
  • 10. Seth Corry 6-2 195 LHP Highly regard HS pick. Was mentioned as possible chip in high profile trades.
  • 11. Jacob Gonzalez 6-3, 190 3B Good pedigree, impressive bat for HS prospect.
  • 12. C.J. Hinojosa 5-10, 175 SS Scrappy IF prospect in the mold of Kelby Tomlinson, just gets it done.
  • 13. Shaun Anderson 6-4, 225 RHP Large frame, 3.36 K/BB rate. Can start or relieve
  • 14. Garett Cave 6-4, 200 RHP He misses a lot of bats and at times, the plate. 13 K/9 an 5 B/9. Wild thing.

2018 MLB Draft - Top National HS Players

  • 1. Ethan Hankins 6-6, 215 RHP Forsyth Central HS (GA) Mi 90's FB tops at 96-98, plus breaking ball. Vanderbilt commit.
  • 2. Kumar Rocker 6-5, 250 RHP North Oconee HS (GA) Heavy 98 FB, sharp mid 90's slider. Vanderbilt commit.
  • 3. Matthew Liberatore 6-5, 200 LHP Mountain Ridge HS (AZ) High 3/4 arm slot, 91-93 FB tops at 95, with good feel for pitching. Arizona commit.
  • 4. Slade Cecconi 6-4, 195 RHP Trinity Prep HS (FL) High 90's FB tops at 97, with mid 80's breaking ball. Miami commit.
  • 5. Carter Stewart 6-6, 200 RHP Eau Galle HS (FL) Highest spin rate breaking ball in draft. Mississippi State commit.
  • 6. Luke Bartnicki 6-3, 210 LHP Walton HS (GA) Low 90's FB with command, workable slider. Georgia Tech commit.

2018 Top MLB College Draft Prospects

  • 1. Brady Singer 6-5, 200 RHP Florida Sergio Romo-esque slider from whippy low 3/4 arm slot. Mid 90's FB, sharp slider and change-up. 3.4 K/BB rate.
  • 2. Casey Mize 6-3, 210 RHP Auburn Forearm issues, 96 FB with split/slider mix, 6.2 K/BB ratio.
  • 3. Logan Gilbert 6-6, 205 RHP Stetson Loose arm action, 3 pitch mix, 93-96 FB 3.2 K/BB.
  • 4. Ryan Rollison 6-3, 200 LHP Mississippi Smooth delivery from 3/4 arm slot, 89-93 FB tops at 94/95. Late 1st, early 2nd rounder. 2.8 K/BB rate.
  • 5. Shane McClanahan 6-1, 175 LHP South Florida Thin build, 3/4 arm slot, tall and fall delivery. 93/96 FB range. 3.0 K/BB rate.

2018 Top MLB HS Draft Prospects in Tampa Bay Area

  • 1. Connor Scott 6-4, 180 OF Plant HS (FL) Florida commit.