Vai's View: How Harmon Killebrew, Charlie Manuel blessed a small Virginia Mormon community
Dick Whitehead, the SVU administrator, rolled out the red carpet and had them all sit in "reserved seating" in the SVU fieldhouse for Charlie's devotional. Dick told me weeks later how effective Charlie's presence at the school had been in their relationship with residents, many of whom had never been to the campus. Townsfolk seemed less suspicious and friendships were forged.
As a baseball lifer, Charlie's language can be colorful and salty, but he only said "hell" and "damn" once during his remarks. It was, after all, a devotional and a Mormon audience. When he met the SVU women's soccer team afterwards and learned they had withdrawn from the championship game in a tournament the previous week because it was scheduled for Sunday, Charlie lamented the fact he didn't know of it beforehand. He said he would've incorporated their stance into his remarks, he was so impressed. He told me his deceased father was a preacher and he never played on the Sabbath until he got to the majors.
Harmon Killebrew died Tuesday. Charlie Manuel was among the many who paid tribute to the Hall of Fame slugger in various media reports.
Neither men really know how their friendship blessed a small Mormon community.
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