Culver City Observer -

Local Hero Buford Still Giving Back To LA

 

August 4, 2016



The world and especially Los Angeles is a better place because of people like Don Buford. The former major league baseball star is still an energizer bunny at the age of 79.

When most people his age are working in the garden or playing golf Buford is running local youth league programs, speaking at local colleges and throwing out the first ball at local baseball events.

“I feel very fortunate to still be thought of as a local hero,” said Buford after he threw the ceremonial first pitch for the West Side All-Star Classic at West Los Angeles College in a game that featured westside graduating high school seniors a few months ago. “A lot of players today were not even born when I was playing.”

Buford started his major league career in 1963 with the Chicago White Sox. He played 10 seasons of major league baseball and the switch-hitting Buford ended his career with 1203 hits, 418 runs batted in and 105 stolen bases. He ended his career with the Baltimore Orioles.

He played second base, third base and the outfield and he also played in three World Series for Baltimore. In 1969 he led off the fall classic with a home run.

Buford attended Dorsey High, Los Angeles City College and USC. As a baseball and football player Buford had to prove himself at every level.

“Everyone thought I was too small at 5’8 150 ponds,” said Buford with a smile. “I was playing baseball at LACC when their starting quarterback got hurt. One of the coaches from Dorsey knew me so he asked me to come out for the football team and I ended up being the starting quarterback.

“Playing football at LACC helped me get stronger for baseball. I had a lot of determination and if you get the opportunity you can make your dreams come true.”

Buford, who is the former director of Major League’s Urban Youth Academy in Compton, thinks the key to a young person’s success in life is the people at the top.

“It has a lot to do with the principals of the high schools, athletic directors and the presidents of the colleges,” said Buford. “These people need to my sure the facilities at their schools are nice so the kids can showcase their skills. If they don’t have a place to go what else can they do? Athletics teaches kids how to compete and it also teaches life skills and in sports size does not matter.”

Another important factor in developing young athletes is parent support according to Buford. Buford loves to see parents in the stands cheering for the kids. “Things happen in the course of life and if these kids have choices in life they will be better citizens. Sports gives kids the opportunity to learn life skills and to be successful and that’s what it’s all about.”

 

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