- Last Updated on 12:00 AM 01/21/11
- BY Doug Ford
In his coaching days, Addison Marable could work an umpire or official with the best of them, but in his more than 50 years with the South Boston Lions Club, he did as much or more outside the dugout or the sidelines to help the youth of his community.
The long-time coach for the Lions’ Dixie Youth baseball team was recognized at a roast Tuesday, with coaching associates and former players speaking of Marable’s dedication to both the Lions Club and the youth of Halifax County.
The good-natured ribbing began with comments from Dr. James Priest, who played football for Marable at Scottsburg as a youth.
“When I grew up as a snotty nose kid, it was Addison Marable and Charlie Moorefield who introduced me to sports,” began Priest.
“Addison never had a lot to say to us as a coach unless it was something very inspirational, and I remember one night in Halifax, we weren’t exactly playing our best in the first half.
“I remember Addison gave us a little pep talk, something like, ‘What in the world are y’all doing. You’re hitting like girls out there.’
“When you say you’re hitting like girls, that made us mad enough, and then he said, ‘Hey, boys look at your pants.’ “We looked down, and he said look at your zippers, don’t you zip them up in front, and we said, ‘Yes sir.’
“Or do you zip them up on the side? Needless to say, we went out and played a little harder from that point.”
“You and Charlie Moorefield introduced me to sports, and even beyond that, I’m proud you’re a good, Christian man, and you instilled those values in us,” Priest told Marable at the roast.
“I thank you to this very day.”
Former South Boston Fire Chief William Murray, who along with Ronnie Pate took over the coaching reins for the Lions Dixie Youth baseball team after Marable, recalled when he drafted two talented young ladies to play with the Lions.
“He drafted two good ball players we had for two good years, pitching and catching and playing shortstop, which was unreal for that time to have a girl playing baseball,” said Murray.
“There were a couple before them, but they stepped it up.”
Pate said he was lucky enough to play for Marable.
“William Murray and I were lucky enough to follow Addison in Dixie Youth baseball,” began Pate.
“Melanie Saunders was drafted by Addison when she was 7-years-old, and she and Kim Lewis had the distinction of being the only female battery in the Dixie Youth Baseball State Tournament.”
Pate recalled something Marable told him about the time he took a Dixie Youth all-star baseball team to the World Series in Louisiana in the late 1950s.
“Addison swears this to be the truth,” said Pate. “He said he was in an old Army barracks down there in his boxer shorts shaving.
“He swears this 12-year-old kid from Mississippi pulls up in a car and gets out of the car. He walks in, and he sets his shaving kit down and asks Addison, ‘What team are you playing for?’”
Current Dixie Youth Baseball State Director Mason Day recalls playing for Marable and coaching against him.
“Years ago, I played baseball for him, I played basketball for him, and if I had lived in Scottsburg, I would have played football for him,” recalled Day.
“Anywhere you went, whether Louisiana, Mississippi or Virginia, Addison would be there. He thought the world of kids. He umpired, and I never could understand how you could coach and get on umpires, then umpire and get on coaches, but he could really do good at that.”
Day remembered an amusing incident at a youth baseball game in Amherst involving Marable during his coaching days.
“I’ll never forget this. Addison could really work umpires, and we went to Amherst one night.
“Addison was getting on this umpire all night long, and the umpire paid no attention to him, but that’s really what you’re supposed to do.
“He found out later on the umpire was deaf.
“But he worked him, and it was a tough game. We were lucky to get out of Amherst that night.”
Day told the gathering at the roast that Marable has done “so much more than anybody in this community for kids.
“He’s followed the kids for years. He’s done a good job, he’s a great guy and well deserving.”
Pate, who estimated that Marable has coached between 1,100 and 1,400 youth in the community over the years, also noted Marable’s efforts through the Lions Club to help youth.
“You (Lions Club) have been great sponsors of Dixie Youth Baseball,” said Pate.
“Mason is state director for Dixie Youth Baseball, and a lot of it is because of the Lions Club. Their motto is ‘We Serve,’ and who could ask for any more service than what Addison has done for us.
“I know for a fact when he got off work at 5 o’clock three days a week, he drove to Richmond and picked up Donnie Roberts so he could play baseball for us.
“The best thing you can say about Addison besides being a great person, he’s a perfect Lion,” added Pate in honoring Marable.
“We love you.”