It was only a few weeks ago and I couldn’t let the moment pass without insisting we take a photo. My first hero, Marshall Sabir Thomas, was in the neighborhood and I wanted to capture the moment.

This guy gave me a lot of ‘first’…my first cheese steak, my first Pineapple soda, my first crazy nickname, my first Muhammad Speaks paper, my first tuba sighting as he played in the Chester High marching band, and he was my first baseball hero.

Marshall was an all-star pitcher with a blazing fastball in Chester Youth Little League. He was in the Major League (age 9-12) and I was in the Junior League (6-8). When I got drafted to the majors, it was like I hit the lottery when they told me I’d be on Franklin Fire House, the team Marshall played for. He graduated and we didn’t play together, but when coach was giving out uniforms, I demanded Marshall’s even though it was probably 3 sizes too big. I proudly wore that #2 uniform until they got us new suits the following year.

We grew up and grew apart, but whenever we’d hook up, it was a joy. You know I like story tellers and he was one of the best and there’s hardly anyone who makes me laugh harder than Sabir.

I last saw him about a week ago and he scolded me because he heard about the Chester Awards and Concert after the fact. I didn’t have his phone number but still felt bad cause he would have really enjoyed the show.

RIP my friend.