I know this isn’t directly about the Negro Leagues, but I wanted to congratulate and say thanks to one of the biggest, most loyal supporters of my work into the Negro Leagues, David Hammer.
Tonight, David will become the first inductee into the Ben Franklin High School football hall of fame in NOLA at the school’s homecoming game. David is a couple of years younger than me, and he was a much better athlete than I ever was. He started at quarterback for Franklin — which is perhaps the best public high school in New Orleans — for several years and even once played against a team led by none other than Peyton Manning.
David won multiple city student-athlete awards as a Franklin Falcon, and he went to Harvard for college, as did his father (his mother went to Duke). From what I recall, he played freshman football for the Crimson, but eventually decided to focus on his studies and student media. That’s also where he met his lovely wife, Lucia Paredes. They now have a cool little kid named Teo, who’s a HUGE Beatles fan and can also play “Smoke on the Water” on guitar.
David himself, meanwhile, has moved up the investigative-reporting ladder and is now an award-winner investigator at WWL TV here in his hometown. To say that I’m extremely proud of him is a massive understatement. But I did teach him everything he knows. 🙂
But as soon as we met way back in 1997 in good ol’ Holyoke, Mass., in the summer of 1997, we became fast, close friends and have remained so for, wow, 17 years. Can’t believe it’s been that old, and how old both of us are. We bonded over Public Enemy, and it only grew from there.
David has also always been a huge supporter of me, my work and my life, and he’s consistently been there for me during all of my personal and professional struggles. There’s no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t have made it this far without him and his support and love.
One of the biggest areas in which David has supported me has been my passion for, research into and writing about the Negro Leagues. he has encouraged me and cheered me on from the beginning, and his support over the years has been invaluable to my spirit and my heart. He and Lucia bought me a hardbound copy of “Only the Ball Was White,” a Negro Leagues Legends poster, and a Negro Leagues game.
So many, many heartfelt and grateful thanks to David (and Lucia and Teo) for all they have done for me in my quest, and hearty congrats to my pal on his honor tonight. I love you, man.