Loved ones remember beloved Louisville baseball player, coach
Family, friends, players and coaches remember a local sports legend, his memory going far beyond any ball field.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Family, friends, players and coaches remember a local sports legend, his memory going far beyond any ball field. Baseball player, coach and teacher Alvin Pfeffer passed away Monday.
Family members said Pfeffer hit the first home run in the 1956 Olympics. He was an icon back then, always making the local morning paper. "I heard about Al Pfeffer when I was a little boy," says Steve Milam.
However, when Milam and so many look around Pfeffer's living room, that's not what will be remembered. "Boy, I see my friend. I see my teacher, I see my coach, I see my mentor. I see the man who molded a lot of my life," Milam said.
"He was the most humble man I've ever met in my life, but he shaped not only my life, but he shaped many, many lives," says Scott Davenport, head men's basketball coach for Bellarmine University.
Pfeffer played ball for Manual, was drafted in the Army and then played in the Olympics. "It was amazing to be 30 years old and find out your dad was an Olympic star and not say anything about it," said Pfeffer's son, Eric.
The U.S. history teacher returned to coach at Manual, where he was later inducted into the Hall of Fame. Milam got to meet and play for the man he read about, and even coach with him later in life. "Al Pfeffer became my second dad," Milam said.
Pfeffer went on to coach basketball at Iroquois High School. "I know this," Davenport said. "I wouldn't even be close to the man I am today without Coach Pfeffer."
His coaching went beyond keeping an eye on the ball. "He would bootleg candy bars out of his classroom to buy the players a sport coat, a tie, a shirt and dress slacks to wear to every game, because he wanted to treat us first class," Davenport said.
The giving continued into retirement for strangers. "Taking truckloads of toys and clothing and shoes to them, (he was) a selfless man," Milam said.
"He did the one thing that all extraordinary people do, not good people, extraordinary. He made everyone around him better," Davenport said.
"Seven years ago, we noticed he was forgetting," Pfeffer said.
At 84 years old, Pfeffer passed away on Monday, March 12.
"Last night, I dreamt all night long about being back in the classroom, and being back on the field and I never dream about my past, ever, but I did last night," Milam said.
It's the final run. "I was asked to be a pallbearer on Saturday and that will rank as one of the greatest honors I will ever receive in my life," Davenport said.
He crossed home for the last time. "We were using Al Pfeffer's slogans, and that will continue until we take our last breath," Milam said.
The memories he's created with the people who emulate him will live on forever. "I know he's up there playing ball where he belongs," Eric Pfeffer said.
Pfeffer's funeral is Saturday at 1 p.m. at Fern Creek Funeral Home located at 5406 Bardstown Road. Visitation begins at 10 a.m. Instead of flowers, the family asks that people bring a new pair of shoes for kids in need.
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