How do you justify a basketball story on a baseball blog? With my grandfather, Jimmy Davey (above) that’s how.
He was both a pro baseball player and pro basketball player. Much more successful in basketball. His Troy team, featuring future Hall of Fame center Ed Wachter was considered the best in the game at one time. In baseball he only made it to class B. But baseball rewarded him with a wife. He met Mildred Bostwick of Eau Claire, Wisconsin in a hotel lobby. He was reading a newspaper and his hair kept dropping over his eyes. She walked over and brushed his hair back. The rest is history, our family’s history. They wed in 1910. But two years later both his sports careers ended in a train derailment in Wisconsin. The rail line paid him $700 for his injury and he took his bride home to Troy and opened a movie theatre. Mildred was an accomplished pianist and accompanied the silent movies of that era. The theatre didn’t prosper so Jimmy began a new career as a custodian for the Troy school system and umpired amateur baseball games. He passed in 1934 when his only child, our dad, was 12.
More than 50 years later, my dad and I were shooting hoops in our driveway with my son Ryan. Ryan had already amassed a handful of medals from the Special Olympics for his basketball skills. But on this day my dad showed him a new shot. An over the head set shot that his dad, the pro had used. I could never master that shot but Ryan picked it up immediately. He would use it to bury 3-pointers at the CYO in the challenger league and in driveways and parks.
Jimmy Davey had started playing basketball at the old Troy YMCA on 1st St. There he met Ed and Lou Wachter. The lads would grow into manhood playing basketball. Ryan and I went on a pilgrimage to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. where I showed him photographs of his great grandpa and his teammates displayed for the world to see. All Ryan cared about was returning to the ground floor where all the hoops and basketballs were. We shot for a long time. Well, Ryan shot and I rebounded, just as we do today at the Troy YMCA on 21st St.. When we are sharing good times on the court, I feel as if others are there with us.
I smile and Ryan drops in a trey.