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THE PEACH BRANDY MAN
Phillip Timothy Gay
August 13, 1979
An unforgettable saga about a 75-year-old baseball fan, a star Dodger pitcher, Imperial Wizards and the goodness in man that all the world's bias and indifference cannot extinguish
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August 13, 1979

The Peach Brandy Man

An unforgettable saga about a 75-year-old baseball fan, a star Dodger pitcher, Imperial Wizards and the goodness in man that all the world's bias and indifference cannot extinguish

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"Well, we tried, Unc," I sighed.

He wanted to leave a note. I trudged back to the car for a pencil and paper. Since a recent stroke, his hands were a bit shaky, so I wrote as he dictated a letter to "Dear Mr. Sutton." He told Don about our unsuccessful efforts to reach him, about the lady on the phone, the security guards who wouldn't let him into the stadium during practice, Walter O'Malley, the stadium attendants, the groundkeeper who had promised to deliver our message, the celebrities who never went to regular-season games. The letter ended with the hope that he and Don would be able to see each other in Atlanta next season. It was signed "Your Friend, Mr. W. A. Johnson." I placed it in the mailbox.

We were in the street, about to get into the car, when another, desperate idea came to him. He looked up the street.

"You know, something tells me Doug Rau or some of the other boys live around here. Don and those fellows are too close not to live near each other. I'm gonna go try some of those houses up there!"

I wanted to scream that I had had it, that it was no use, that we had already wasted enough time, but I managed to hold back, knowing that if I let it out I would probably be sorry forever. Uncle Arbria had probably told everyone in Georgia he was going to visit Don. I owed it to him to try everything. I told him to go ahead. I sat in the car, watching through the rear-view mirror as he made his way up the street. He turned into a walkway four or five houses up from Don's. Someone would be surprised to find a gaunt, very polite old black man on their doorstep, inquiring of the whereabouts of various members of the Dodgers.

A glistening, metallic-gray Bentley eased up the street. A pale man with a fluffy Afro was behind the wheel. Don Sutton? It was Don Sutton! He threw me a curious glance as he turned into the driveway.

I rushed to the car, blurting, "My uncle's been trying to see you for three weeks! He's been calling the ball park! Trying to get through to you at the stadium! He came all the way from Atlanta, Georgia, and he's leaving tomorrow!"

Sutton took a deep breath and got out of the car. He was tall, athletically neat and trim, wearing a red golfing shirt and black dress slacks.

"He's up the street!" I continued, accusingly. "Trying to find out if any of the other players live around here!" Don's eyes brightened for an instant, then dropped to the ground, his words coming through a sad sigh. "Mr. Johnson from Atlanta, Mr. Johnson...." He turned to see my uncle hurrying down the street toward us.

Don ran to meet him and they embraced in the middle of the street, laughing and talking at the same time. Seeing that my uncle was out of breath, Don gently escorted him back to the driveway. Glowing with excitement, my uncle introduced us, telling Don how much I had wanted to meet him. We shook hands.

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