BRACEVILLE, Ohio (WYTV) — A Valley native got a big surprise this weekend; his life story.
Anyone familiar with Negro League baseball surely knows the name Ted Toles Jr. The 89-year-old Braceville man played mostly as a pitcher for many teams in both the Negro League and minor leagues in the 1940’s and 50’s.
His experiences caught the attention of Michael Swank, who after meeting with Toles and his son, decided to write Toles’ story.
This weekend, Swank and Toles’ family surprised him with the finished work.
“Is this it? Everybody’s been asking me about books. I’ll have to find out,” said Toles.
Swank said he befriended Toles several years back.
“I think it was 2006, I met Toles and we just kind of hit it off, became friends,” said Swank.
“He started asking me quite a few questions about my dad’s career. And he started doing research. And he started coming up with stats,” added Toles’ son, Ted Toles III.
Swank said they hadn’t spoken for a few years but got back in touch in time to begin working on the book.
“I figure with Mike doing all the research and the pictures, I questioned him about would he be interested in doing a book. He says he never done a book before, but he would love to give it a try,” said Toles III.
“The book will be ‘Living on Borrowed Time,'” added Toles.
Swank admitted that some of the research process wasn’t too easy.
“It took about a year and a half. The research portion was tough. Microfilm, old newspapers. It’s tough to find information on anyone other than Jackie Robinson in 1946,” Swank said.
Toles III said all of the book’s statistics are on point.
“Everything in the book is documented, has stats to back it up,” said Toles III.
“It takes you for a ride, and some of his experiences,” Swank added.
Toles said that it wasn’t easy for a young African-American athlete in the 1940’s.
“No white man, a kid, could ever go through the drama and stuff that I faced. And a lot more faced it,” said Toles.
Swank said that a great many athletes from the Negro League have gone unrecognized for their lasting achievements.
“To pay tribute to the Negro Leagues: The players. There’s thousands of men like Mr. Toles that have gone off the radar. They’ve unfortunately passed away. Never got the recognition that they were due,” said Swank.
“I had a million opportunities through my life that I don’t believe a lot of people ever had to face,” added Toles.
Swank added that Mr. Toles is living history and an important figure in the fabric of local culture.
“Mr. Toles is a great man to hear a story from as well. So I encourage anyone to come out and see him. Grab a book. Listen to him. Meet him. Get an autograph and meet some real history,” said Swank.