The Day Dizzy Dean Came to Church

Just a few weeks after he had been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the celebrated pitcher Dizzy Dean arrived at our church—to lay a brick. Our pastor at the time, Rev. Patrick (Pat) Murphy, had a promotional idea to stir up some interest in the church and raise some funds for the completion of a new sanctuary. The building project had begun in 1949. Things were going slowly. That spring of 1954 the pastor invited Dizzy Dean to church. Pat Murphy was from Arkansas and was acquainted with some of the Dean family. Pastors occasionally have bright ideas like this.

This story, which I have told before, was recalled as I was contacted by Andrea Brixey Shoemaker after she was looking at some old photographs from the church. We have begun displaying old photographs from our church archives on the Braden Park Church Facebook page. Andrea’s father, Herb Brixey, died in 2012. She was thinking about her dad and the red brick.

Ten-year-old Herby was chosen to go with Dizzy Dean and the pastor up on top of the roof of the northeast office where Herb handed the baseball player-turned-announcer a red brick. With wet mortar and trowel, Dean carefully placed the red brick up high on the east wall facing Yale Avenue. Pictures were taken, autographs were signed and then it was over. The workmen proceeded to add the beige-colored bricks that matched the rest of the building. If you stand across the street from the church and look real closely towards the upper north side of the big stained-glass window, you will not see the red brick.

I suspect the pastor went to sleep pleased with the day’s events. But that very night some displeased church leaders had the red brick removed. The pastor’s comments were not recorded. I think of it as a cautionary tale of a bright idea not completely talked through with those most affected.  Some years before Herb had his double lung transplant in 2000, he and I were cleaning a closet near the back of the sanctuary. There we came upon a mortar-encrusted red brick. We decided this was “The Red Brick.” It has since been kept in the church library. This week we passed the brick on to Andrea and her husband Curt, as the family reminder of the day Dizzy Dean came to church and met Herby Brixey.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Actions affect others. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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