I must say, I knew Artie Wilson much better than I did Maurice Lucas. The former star in the Negro Leagues and ex-Portland Beaver was around Portland-area baseball for most of my life.
I never missed a chance to speak with him because I always came away from it smarter and with a smile on my face. Artie was a delight — a man who contributed so much to so many people.
Quiet, modest, kind — he was a leader in the community and a man who served for years as a role model to many. I know all his friends, co-workers and customers at Gary-Worth for decades are better for having known him and will miss him greatly. He was a wonderful man known for his soft-spoken manner and ever-present smile. And what a terrific player he was — and yes, I’m old enough to have seen him play.
I must also say this, I have been blessed in my lifetime to have met several men who played in the old Negro Leagues and to a man have found them delightful people with a twinkle in their eyes whenever they talked about their baseball experience. They have been an incredibly consistent group to meet and I must say, it must have been a joyful experience to play baseball in those leagues in that time, if those men are any barometer.
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As much as those players missed by not being allowed in the major leagues, I believe we missed a whole lot more by not being able to see them in that context.
Best wishes and condolences to Artie’s great family, which has always been there for him and live on as a great tribute to him.