Become a Friend of Preacher Hebert
Original Lane Field Padres pitcher
Wally "Preacher" Hebert was an easy-going Cajun from Southwest
Louisiana. San Diego fans called him "He-bert," but back home
folks all pronounced his family name: "A-bear."
The lanky southpaw had a tempting pitch that few batters could resist.
Fortunately, the opposition bats had a difficult time making contact
with Preacher's "nothin' ball." During his seven seasons with
the Padres, Hebert won 126 games and set several pitching records.
This past summer, Preacher was among 34 former Pacific Coast League
Padres players, owners and assorted other baseball dignitaries honored
with Hall of Fame plaques in the PCL Bar & Grill at Petco Park.
The San Diego Padres hosted a reunion of old players and families at
their "Throwback" game on June 25, 2005 when the Padres appeared
in replicas of the team's 1936 pinstripes and the Seattle Mariners wore
copies of the 1938 Seattle Rainiers PCL team. The Padres old-timers
were also given throwback jerseys to wear on the field during pre-game
Among those in attendance were the five children of Preacher Hebert:
Linda Faye Todd, Hillene Deaton, Wally, Jr., David and Stephen. Preacher
died in 1999 at 92-years of age. His widow, Bobbie (age 90), was unable
to make the trip. The Hebert kids loved their extended weekend in San
Diego and returned to the South with replicas of their Daddy's Hall
of Fame plaque.
Most of the family still lives in the small town of Westlake, Louisiana
on the Texas border. Like most people living along the Gulf Coast, they
prayed as residents fled New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina gained strength
in the Caribbean. The following excerpt is from an e-mail sent by Hillene
shortly after it appeared the Big Easy had been spared:
"Our civic center has about 3000 people there, so our local Red
Cross is asking for help with money and things to entertain the small
children. A volunteer is coming to get some stuff from us. Pray for
the state. The economic blow is going to be bad."
The next day, Bobbie called. She was unable to reach friends and family
in the state and had to talk to somebody. I was unaware that levees
had broken in New Orleans. The magnitude of the disaster was unclear,
but when I turned on the TV, scenes of death and property damage were
It was clear that refugees would be unable to return to their homes.
I was disappointed the media focused on the looting and the government's
slow response to this tragedy. Little attention was given to those throughout
the South who were trying to help their neighbors who had fled the deadly
Hillene's brother Stephen and his family were safe, but they lost their
home and business in Metairie outside New Orleans. Her concern was for
the refugees in her town. I am certain there are similar stories throughout
the South. People were opening their homes, their hearts and their wallets.
I wanted to help and Hillene sent this e-mail:
"What a kind offer. I called the pastor that's heading it up. Jason
Johnson. I saw him raised. We went to the same church when he was young.
He was a rascal when he was a teen. They make the best preachers. He
is coordinating everything. Make your checks out to Bellview Baptist
Church, on the memo line, put Katrina refugees. Their address is 507
John Stine Road, Westlake, LA 70669. Jason assures me that 100% of any
money sent will be used to buy food, toiletries and anything else needed
for the ones we are helping. Our town has responded with clothes and
that kind of stuff so the money will be put to good use. This is not
going to go away quickly. Two of the men have already found jobs and
our school system is making arrangements for the kids to go to school
while they are here. We're a small town, pop. 7500 but it's truly heartwarming
how everyone is pitching in. That's the beauty of a small town. If someone
needs help here, they fix a jar with a picture and the problem mounted
on the side and put them in the various businesses. It works because
we either know them or know their parents or cousins or someone in the
family. Thank you so much for caring and please pass along our thanks
for anything your friends do."
Now for my pitch which I hope you can't resist.
How would old-time Padres fans like to become a "Friend of Preacher
Hebert?" Send a check to the Bellview Baptist Church in Westlake,
Louisiana. In the lower left memo area, note that you are a Friend of
Preacher Hebert and your check is for Katrina Refugees.
Thank you. You are herby an honorary Cajun.