Page 33 - Salem Magazine Spring 2016
P. 33

 Our Community
  n the 26 years that the Carver School produced high achieving graduates, you would be hard pressed to find a success story more unlikely than
baseball, but that was for the white kids back then, so I played in the bushes and the weeds.”
 the one belonging to Larry LeGrande. The class of 1957 graduate became a professional baseball player despite the fact that Carver never had a high school baseball team during his time on Water Street.
As luck would have it, an adult baseball team comprised of African-Americans was established right in the middle of those weeds in southwest Roanoke County. It was known as the Pinkard Court Wolves and by the time LeGrande was 10, he was attending games and chasing down foul balls for the team. At the age of 14, his skills were so good, the grown men on the team convinced LeGrande’s father to let him join the squad and travel with them to games in Hollins, Rocky Mount, Martinsville and even West
“When Jackie Robinson broke in with the Dodgers in 1947, I remember listening to the games on the radio on our front porch. I wanted to play little league baseball, but that was for the white kids back then, so I played in the bushes and the weeds.”
Larry LeGrande
 “Sometimes I can’t imagine how the good Lord made a way for a little country boy like me,” says LeGrande. “To do what I did without even having a high school team to play for - Lord have mercy.”
Virginia and Georgia. LeGrande played for
Growing up in the Pinkard Court area of Roanoke County on Route 220 South, LeGrande developed what would eventually be recognized as one of the strongest and most accurate throwing arms in the Negro Leagues by digging fence posts and tending to the pigs and chickens on the family farm.
this team and the Webster’s All-Stars until his senior year at Carver when a chance encounter put his professional career in motion.
He and the other Carver students, who lived in that area, would get up early, do their chores and catch a bus that would carry them on the 24-mile roundtrip to school and back each day. Like many of the male students in that era, he developed a strong relationship with chemistry teacher Irvin Cannaday. Coach Cannaday, as most referred to him, had lead the Eagles to championships in basketball and was a role model for young men of all ages at the school. He also happened to be a big New York Yankees baseball fan.
“I couldn’t get a baseball scholarship because my school didn’t offer one and my daddy told me the only way that I was going to college was if I paid for it so, I didn’t know what I was going to do,” he says.
“When Jackie Robinson
broke in with the Dodgers in 1947, I remember listening to the games on the radio on our front porch,” he says. “I wanted to play little league
“They called and told me to come to the game, so I went down to the fence and asked for a man named Homer Curry,” he says. “He
In the spring of 1957, the Birmingham Black Barons and Memphis Red Sox played an exhibition game at Municipal Field in Salem. While the Red Sox were eating before the game at the old Mae’s Inn, the restaurant’s manager told some of the team members that they should check out this local kid named Larry LeGrande.
took a pad and wrote my name and address down and that night he invited me to a tryout during spring training in Memphis.”
www.salemva.gov | SPRING 2016
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