Raymond Cobb (July 1, 1955 – Sept. 4, 2013)
The summer of 1987, the summer before my third grade year, we moved into a new house on the south side of Fort Worth. The house was on the corner of Felix and 6th Avenue directly across the street from Hubbard Height Elementary School. It didn’t take me long to realize that if I wanted to fit in with the kids in that neighborhood I had better learn to play baseball. In that little neighborhood baseball was a way of life. We spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours playing baseball in the open field just beyond the playground at Hubbard Heights Elementary.
However, when I first arrived that summer I had never played baseball. I owned a few baseball cards; that was the extent of my baseball knowledge in 1987. I don’t even know if I owned a glove and if I did I didn’t know how to use it. I could not catch a ball and that was problematic in my new environment. What I do remember though is on many occasions we would spend the weekends at Uncle Ray’s (actually back then it was Uncle Raymond). He was working for Smith Alarm Company back then and on many Friday’s after work he would come by and pick up my Mom and us kids. Kim, Donald, and I would climb into the back of the work van and ride to Azle sitting on ladders, rolls of wire and whatever other equipment he had in the back of that van. For a group of elementary kids that was an awesome ride.
It was on one of those weekends at Uncle Ray’s house that I learned how to catch a baseball. I remember being out in his gravel driveway under the shade of the trees and asking him to teach me how to catch. I remember him showing me how to hold the glove and telling me to squeeze when I felt the ball hit the glove. For many kids their dad’s taught them to catch. My dad wasn’t a baseball guy. For me it was my Uncle Ray that taught me to catch. Ray introduced me to the Texas Rangers, back in the Steve Buechele, Pete O’Brien, Bobby Witt days. My mother stopped driving somewhere along the way and in those days my dad work odd hours and occasionally two jobs so it was my Uncle Ray who made sure I got to my games and tournaments.
During the mid-1990’s gang violence was at its peak in Ft. Worth and after a scary incident involving random violence about half way through my sixth grade year I left public school and started home schooling. After spending the rest of my 6th grade year and my 7th and 8th grade years in home school it was time to enter public school again so I could play baseball. I was anxious about going to public school in Ft. Worth after the violence I was exposed to in middle school so my Uncle Ray welcomed me into his home for a year until my parents moved to Azle my sophomore year. I had to do the dishes on occasion but I also had the opportunity to watch a lot of baseball with him and spend many evenings playing catch out it the road. It was a great year.
For those who know me you know I love baseball and baseball has been a huge part of my life and now my kid’s lives as well. Ray was a significant reason why. Ray was my biggest supporter in baseball and in other areas of my life. He taught me how to catch, he taught me how to drive, he was the best man in my wedding and he was my biggest fan. Uncle Raymond you will be missed. We love you and are grateful for every minute we had with you.