"I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me... All I ask is that you respect me as a human being."
By Marcus Harden
Jackie Robinson is embodied in the spirit of this local hero. It’s been quipped that not all heroes wear capes and even fewer carry a bat, yet in the streets of Seattle one seemingly ordinary man achieves extraordinary things… usually with a baseball bat in his hand.
Jeron “Bookie” Gates (in most circles, it’s just Bookie) is a tried and true Seattle native. Proudly raised in the Central District by another unsung hero, his mother Gert Hauser, he is an alumni of Garfield High School (everyone makes mistakes!) and Washington State University (see above) and has worked with youth and adults in every facet for the city of Seattle for more than 15 years.
Yet life truly begins when you can focus your passionate purpose into your profession, which happened for Bookie when he formed Baseball Beyond Borders. Baseball Beyond Borders, a club Gates built over the last decade, seeks to expose urban kids of color to America’s national pastime, developing their skills through mentorship, tournaments, camps and clinics and by supporting baseball programs at their local high schools.
Baseball Beyond Borders (which has expanded to include Athletes Beyond Borders, as Gates and his supporters have started a volleyball program for girls as well) also develops and nurtures coaching and leadership skills within the community, giving its student athletes role models while helping prepare them for college and beyond. Bookie, ever the quiet leader as founder and president, works tirelessly behind the scenes to promote spaces in which young people can thrive, learning transformational and transferable life skills through their passion.
Yet to know Bookie is to know that he embodies more, which includes being a proud husband and father. One of the trappings of service to society is that often times people fall short in other areas. In our personhood we are limited resources, yet Bookie has managed to work tirelessly at home, too — he’s a husband and father with no borders. If you catch him in conversation, you won’t wait long until he’s glowing about his wife, smiling about his daughter or sheepishly grinning about his son. He is a man whose proudest accomplishment is the team he’s cultivated at home.
Bookie Gates is a man who leads with authentic integrity and quiet conviction. A man filled with purpose and committed to silent service, a man who would prefer the light shine on the work and not on him. In a time when we often wonder where the role models and heroes are, we don’t have to look far as men like Bookie sit in front of us in full sight, sans cape and cowl, just draped in their commitment to the service of others.
Today the “bat” signal shines brightly as it is my honor and privilege to recognize Jeron “Bookie” Gates as a person making Black History, Today!
For more information on Bookie and Baseball Beyond Borders visit http://baseballbeyond.org/