Durham Bulls Fan's Love For Baseball Withstands Test Of Time
Posted April 3, 2003 5:20 a.m. EST
DURHAM, N.C. — A man whose love for baseball and love for the
has lasted a lifetime.
As a semiprofessional player in the early 1900s, Ray Williams played against the likes of Josh Gibson and Satchell Paige of the old Negro League.
"He [Paige] could pitch that ball. That ball would come up there, and when it gets to you, it would drop," he said.
At 92 years old, Williams' playing days are long over, so now he transfers his love to his favorite team. He has been a Durham Bulls fan for the last 79 years and says so far, he has missed only five or six home games.
"Don't miss many. You can't keep up with baseball if you don't go regularly, or you don't know what's happening," he said.
In the early days, Williams had to earn his way into the old El Toro Park by retrieving home run balls, but that soon changed.
"When they integrated and I started going, I had a seat right behind the catcher, and that's what I got now," Williams said.
Now, he can sit whereever he wants at the ballpark. It is a place where everyone truly loves Raymond.
"The players, they're friendly with you. They get to know you," he said. "Come in the afternoon, wave at you, holler at you -- they're friendly."
Williams says he has carte blanche at the ballpark. The vendors offer him food and fans stop by to say hello. Last year, Williams fell and broke his arm toward the end of the season, so he missed it when the Bulls were making their championship run. But he says he is back now and plans to keep coming back until he is 100.