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Vernon C. Lewis, (1916-1970) - the biography below highlights Lewis's baseball career. Please add additional information about Mr. Lewis.

Vern Lewis loved baseball and had started playing at an early age. He quit high school and ran away to Chicago to try to join the Chicago American Giants. (he may have seen or played against the Giants in 1934.) Vern's father had no real interest in sports and wanted his son to get a real job. He refused to sign the approval so Vern had to return home. We see Vern pictured as the Captain and Catcher of LeRoy Barnes' Red Sox in 1940 when they won the Cornbelt League title. Vern had five other brothers who probably played ball as well , but it was Vern who had the passion and excelled. Their sister, Mae, was a good baseball player too. She was left handed and could hit a ball as far as any guy!

Like Elsa Utley, Vern's baseball days were interrupted by WWII and when he returned home, he married and began his career as a plasterer. Vern didn't talk much about playing ball with his own boys, but their mother, Muriel , told them their dad could really run. His nickname was "Zip" because he was so fast. She said he was a heck of a short stop as well. Although Vern's passion turned to his work, he never lost his love for baseball. He would come home from work and listen to the ball games on different radios - he might be listening to different games on several radios at the same time and he could tell you what every player
was doing. When TV came out, he would bring several TVs together and even a radio, if necessary, to make sure he didn't miss anything.

His wife said all that noise could drive you crazy! Vern, Jr., never saw his father play ball - other than to throw the ball around with the boys. They did, however, spend many a Sunday afternoon at Douglass Park watching the Eagles play. He remembers walking to the park, getting something to eat at the concession stand, and just having fun.

Through the Years, African American History in Champaign County, Spring 2006 - Read online at eBlackCU: