Some volunteers go all out, spreading their altruism over many worthy projects. But some have a particular cause they are interested in or are good at, and they stick to using their time, talent, energy and resources for that purpose.
Billy Williams falls into the latter group; his main goal is to reunite old "over-the-hill" ball players in the Mobile area once a year, and he's been doing just that since 1998.
Williams is the leader of a small committee that arranges a breakfast every second Saturday in June for athletes who reached their peak in the 1940s, '50s and '60s. Anywhere from 50-80 get together at 7:30 a.m. at Saraland Civic Center, feast on bacon, sausage, eggs, grits, homemade biscuits and hot, black coffee. They greet each other with a handshake or a slap on the back, grab a table and talk over old times.
Williams said that the reunion started when he and the late Harold Crowder got together with "5 or 6 old ball-playing buddies to drink coffee and talk over old times." They began inviting others--some were high school baseball, basketball or football players at Murphy, Vigor, McGill or UMS. Some played college, pro or semi-pro baseball or just filled the city or commercial fast-pitch softball leagues at Sage Avenue Park.
No matter whether they were high-school stars or working men playing for recreation (and a trophy for their employer), at this June breakfast, they are all members of a fraternity, a brotherhood, swapping tall tales about their glory days.
When it comes to keeping up with the men during the year, visiting those who are sick or attending the funerals of those who die, Williams shares the duties with a committee made up of Ernie Howze, Billy Robison and Homer Lolley.
And they make the phone calls to remind the Over-the-Hill gang about the annual breakfast--men like Jules Mugnier, an all-around athlete at Spring Hill College (1948-1952); Claude Horn, a Murphy High outfielder in the mid-50s who went on to play with Kansas City and the Mobile Bears, and Billy Coleman, a Vigor High quarterback and basketball player who has been inducted into three Halls of Fame.
For Billy Williams, the time he spends arranging the breakfast and keeping up with the ball players is time well spent. And he plans to keep the reunion going "as long as I can" because, he said, "all of these people are my friends."
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