Dick and his two daughters, Kay and Christina
Dick on 'Wolfman' Field
Soweto Township (Kay on left)
Dick and President Kufuor of Ghana
The "Fab Four"
In 1959, I was a high school 2nd baseman at East Bakersfield High School, just finishing a good junior year in baseball. Bakersfield was pushing 50,000 people and some people considered it the arm pit of California. But just as my season was ending, I received a letter from Coach George Wolfman of the Cal baseball team. He asked questions: would I consider playing baseball at Berkeley, and, if my answer was yes, would I fly to Berkeley to visit the school?
I was startled at what he saw in me. I am not sure how it all happened, but Coach Wolfman was able to get me to Berkeley and proceeded to charm me with dinner, a San Francisco Giants baseball game, the Cal ball field and the campus. The most amazing part of the adventure was that he treated me like a first class athlete. He was tough! He and the admissions people sat me down and pointed out that I had some serious high school repair work to do. During the next year Coach kept up with me, I did the heavy grade lifting, and rising to his expectations, I had a first class baseball season in my senior year
The whole experience turned out to be one of the key turning points of my life. George treated me like a first class person and helped me get out of Bakersfield. I went on to graduate school at Berkeley. From Berkeley I went to work in minority education at the City University of New York. I joined the staff of the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) in 1970 to promote grassroots empowerment programs. I started in India and then spent four years in the Philippines in a project funded by USAID. I spent six years in Kenya using a participative development approach funded by the Ford Foundation. We helped 1,500 villages become self-reliant, self-sufficient and self-confident.
Over the years, I've worked with ICA offices in 37 countries. In 1986 I was appointed ICA's Director of Global Development in Brussels and in 1991 became the Secretary General of the Institute of Cultural Affairs International. One of the highlights of my career was producing a new book, Beyond Prince and Merchant--Citizen Participation and the Rise of Civil Society.
One of the unexpected consequences of being in Brussels was that I was able to pick up baseball again. I had two daughters who went to the International School of Brussels (ISB). After one of my daughters mentioned to the baseball coach--Yes, they do play baseball in Europe!--that I had played baseball at Berkeley, he invited me to join him as an "extra pair of hands". What a schedule we had: Paris, London, Frankfurt, The Hague, Vienna and Cairo. During the next fourteen years, first as an assistant and then as head coach, I helped ISB to win ten European baseball championships. As my doctor said, it was the greatest thing I could have done for my body at 45: two hours of hitting fungoes and pitching batting practice daily. For me though, it was just great to pass on George Wolfman's insight that treating young ballplayers as first class human beings and athletes can be a turning point in their lives.
After being overseas for 25 years, I have moved back to the States to help coordinate an African HIV/AIDS Initiative in eight countries: Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. We are partnering with some great organizations--the Elton John Foundation, The American Jewish World Service, Rotary and Stanford University Medical School Chronic Illness Positive Self-Management program--to develop individual and community tools so Africans to take control of HIV/AIDS.
You could say that if George Wolfman had not started treating me a like a first class athlete, I might never have gotten out of Bakersfield and into the world.
Dick in African Head Dress(not, as some have suggested, a defection to Stanford !!)
Dick relaxing in Hawaii
Dick and two other members of the William J. Clinton Foundation
Dick and President Kufuor of Ghana