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Story Archives: Gid gave Luffeys extra dose of caring
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|Gid gave Luffeys extra dose of caring|
first knew him as Luffey. I asked my daddy one day, "What is Luffey's last name?" Luffey was all I knew. When he was pitching for the Alexandria Aces, my family was living in Pineville and my daddy was the head football coach at Louisiana College, Luffey brought me about half a dozen baseballs. I thought that I had just inherited a Spalding baseball factory. I had never owned so many baseballs in my life.
When I was a little boy, I loved the Brooklyn Dodgers. Luffey was friends with Tony Johns, a scout for the Dodgers. I just knew with the relationship that Luffey had with Tony Johns that one day I would be playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Oh, the joy of dreaming when you are a little boy. Nothing is impossible.
Mother once shared a story with me about Luffey. Daddy had coached him at Neville High School. Daddy had accepted the head coaching job at Tallulah High School and Luffey was helping us move. I guess he was driving the car that Mother, Devone, and I were occupying. Mother said Luffey asked her, "Mrs. Payne, why was Coach Payne so hard on me? He was always hollering my name."
Mother answered him this way. "George, as long as Coach Payne is getting on you, he believes in you. The day that he quits staying on you is the day he does not think that you can do the job."
Years later, (it was Coach Luffey now.), Luffey was coaching with my daddy at Northeast. In fact, he was the first coach Daddy hired. Luffey was only 23 years old. They earned their pay, which wasn't much. When we moved to Monroe, Luffey wanted to make sure that I got to meet some kids in our neighborhood. He brought his nephew Eddie Kincaid over to the house. We played pitch most of the afternoon. Kincaid remains a very good friend to this day.
Luffey did not forget the Payne family after my daddy died in 1958. I have called on him many times through the years. And he has always been a help.
I can remember when Luffey married his wife, Jane. I was about 10 or 11 years old. I thought she was one of the most beautiful women on earth.
We have had several get togethers at his house for the 1958 Northeast team. This team still is tied for the most regular season wins for a season. Luffey has kept a close contact with many of these players. He knows where they live and what has happened in their lives. You can tell how much these former players respect him and how close he is to not only the players, but their families. He served as a pallbearer at my mother's funeral. He is in the Hall of Fame at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and the University of Louisiana-Monroe.
The Luffey brothers and their sisters all have the ability to make you feel as if you are the most important person in the world. Several months ago ULM presented Coach Luffey with the George T. Walker Lifetime Achievement Award. There is not a more deserving recipient than Coach George Luffey.
I know all the Luffey brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces and children and they all share that same outgoing, warm personality that makes a person feel important. When God made this family, he added an extra dose of caring for others. And Luffey started on me when I was young, when he brought me those six baseballs.
Robert Charles Payne is an inspirational writer who lives in West Monroe. He can be contacted by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.