Become a Friend of Preacher Hebert Printed: Monday, September 5, 2005 5:42 AM

From : William G. Swank <>
Sent : Sunday, September 4, 2005 10:22 PM
To : "Alan Lubke" <>
CC : <>
Subject : Become a friend of Preacher Hebert


Hi West Coast Corresponent for the Farmington Independent,

I have submitted this article to a local community newspaper here in San Diego. How about trying to it in the Farmington Independent or the Horizon Beacon in El Paso?

Your pal, BS

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 festivities.

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 staggering.

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 hurricane.

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.

Bill Swank is my pal and a baseball historian who has authored several books about the old San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League. His passion for the game of baseball and his desire to maximize service to others were formed on the playing fields in the community of Farmington, Minnesota. I can only hope that perhaps Farmingtonians who read this message will, as individuals, adopt the citizens of Westlake, Louisiana as their own -- the two seem so much alike to me.

Alan Lubke
FHS '57
Labor Day
September 5, 2005

For more about Bill Swank and his growing up in Farmington,
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