I met former Grambling baseball coach Wilbert Ellis at a baseball game in New Orleans, Louisiana, sitting in the bleachers of Wesley Barrow Stadium . He was surrounded by a faithful entourage; holding court on the nature of the competition in the Southwestern Athletic Conference 2018 Baseball Championship.
This is a subject he knows something about, as history records Ellis won three SWAC baseball championships and eight western divisional titles in his 26 years as head baseball coach at Grambling State University.
He is warm, affable and extended his right hand to greet me, as his former shortstop and National College Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee Robert Braddy, sought to introduce us.
“I know who he is,” Ellis, said interrupting Braddy’s introduction.
“He’s doing a fine job,” Ellis said, grasping my right hand in a firm handshake.
We had not met until that moment. Yet Ellis greeted me as if he was greeting a son, a former player of his or someone he had watched grow into adulthood.
Ellis, ever the coach kept a watchful eye on everyone and everything that moved or did not move in Wesley Barrow Stadium, which is named for the legendary manager of the New Orlean Black Pelicans during the period of segregated professional baseball.
Unknown to me, he watched as I went about my job of reporting on the baseball action for BlackCollegeNines.
Although we had not been formerly introduced, he was observing me, my professionalism and character and was keenly aware of my movement around the stadium. With all of his success in baseball, the game for Ellis has never been about runs, hits and errors. It is about the opportunity to mold the character of young men.
Character is a trait that he looks for in the people he encounters. It is a trait that is the ethos of Lincoln Parish where the City of Ruston, Louisiana is located and where Ellis’s character was nurtured.
Lincoln Parish is the base from which he has taught character building to young…