It was 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 26, 2012. I just got the word that we lost Mr. Jack Breeden.
He will always be lovingly remembered as “Mr. Jack.” Mr. Jack has touched the lives of so many youth (and many who are now not so youthful) in this area. He has always been there coaching little kids in baseball, since my earliest memories of playing ball.
I came to know Mr. Jack as a baseball coach and a good man. Back in the day, when we still had a sense of community, Mr. Jack coached a group of young men from the southern and eastern parts of Hamlet (which encompassed mostly East Hamlet, South Hamlet and Newtown and Gibson Switch). When I started out playing, I played for the North Yard.
Mr. Jack seemed so savvy in his baseball knowledge; he was almost regarded like a Dean Smith of community baseball. You were something if you played for Jack Breeden. He was a rather soft spoken man, who was rarely riled by people or circumstances.
Through Mr. Jack I came to know his sons whom I always count as friends. All of his sons (Sam, Wilbert and Louis) who were near my age range were exceptional athletes. We played baseball together back in the day through my high school days.
Guess who the coach was! We played sandlot and pick-up basketball and had some pretty fierce competition. But I pitied the other teams when my brothers and I, and the Breeden boys played on the same team. It was all over for the other teams.
Mr. Jack helped generations of young men to learn how to compete, and do it with grace and dignity.
I am now 57 years old; but I still remember fondly my association with Mr. Jack. He was always ready to greet you with a handshake and a smile. He was a rare breed of man — one who I look up to and respect for his willingness to help others.
I thank the Almighty, and the Breeden family for sharing such a wonderful man with us all!