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Coach Butch McAdams: He Never Cried Foul

By Harold Bell On June - 17 - 2009

Butch McAdams has become an adopted son and fixture in Baltimore as a radio and community personality. He is the co-host of a daily morning radio talk show with Larry Young aired on WOLB 1010 A.M.

 

On Friday June 5, 2009 Maret High School in Washington, DC hosted a retirement party for him. He retired after thirty-one years as a teacher of Physical Education and the school’s Head Basketball Coach.

 

In attendance was his Baltimore family that include former Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich and the nephews of the legendary Congressman Perrin Mitchell. Former Senator Clarence Mitchell III came all the way from Baltimore on crutches with his son Clarence IIII to honor their friend. He recently had hip replacement. Former Maryland University basketball coach Bob Wade and former Baltimore Police Commissioner Leonard Hamm were also in the standing room only crowd.

 

Childhood friends like long time and former assistant Georgetown basketball coach, Mike Riley, Larry Watson, Bruce Williams, Gerome Miller, Ron Davis, and Radio One gospel and TV host Jeff Majors were all on hand to say “Congratulations and job well done.”

 

Butch McAdams is a native Washingtonian. He lived and grew up at the corner of 14th and T streets NW right in the middle of the historical U and 14th street corridors. He was raised in the Catholic faith and educated at St. Augustine and Mackin High Schools in NW Washington, DC.

 

The historical landmarks in Butch’s community were all in walking distance of his home. The landmarks were the Bohemian Caverns, 12th Street YMCA, the Afro-America Newspaper, and the Dunbar Hotel. The Lincoln and Republic theaters were the community’s main movie outlets. The live entertainment seen at the Howard Theatre and Turners Arena was off the charts. Black Washington dined and hung out at the Florida Ave Grill, Keys, Hollywood, Faces, and Cecilia’s Restaurants and last but not least, Ben’s Chili Bowl.

 

There were other landmarks like Cardozo High School, Harrison Playground, and the Hillcrest Children’s Center Saturday Program. They helped shape Butch McAdam’s life and connected the two of us.

 

Harrison playground was where most of the neighborhood playground basketball legends gathered in the evenings after work and on the weekends. Harrison was the home playground of the Scott family. Rip and Bo Scott were basketball legends. Butch was one of the many young spectators who watched and learned from the basketball legends of Harrison Playground.

 

I have spent the last decade writing and talking about the benefactors of Kids In Trouble, Inc and Inside Sports who have been forgotten. I had completely overlooked the one who had not. This is one of the best examples; “Not being able to see the forest for the trees.”

 

Growing up in the U and 14th Street corridors helped prepare Butch as a coach and teacher. He has touched thousands of young people in his thirty-one years at Maret. His most important lesson had nothing to do with sports. He taught his students the most important game being played in the world today is “The Game Called Life.”

 

My experiences as a Roving Leader and the founder of Hillcrest Children’s Center Saturday Program caused me many Excedrin headaches. Butch was never a headache or Kid In Trouble. Thanks to his parents and St. Paul and Augustine he was always a little gentleman. He understood early it was okay to be seen and not heard.

 

In 1992 he became a one of a kind radio sports talk show personality at WOLRadio. Unlike others in the media who became experts on the black community only after getting their own talk shows or newspaper columns, Butch brought his community credentials with him (U Street, Harrison Playground, Hillcrest Children Center Saturday Program, Kids In Trouble, Inc. etc). He used his radio talk show to broaden his community base (DC to Baltimore) to help make children really first.

 

The lessons learned at St. Paul and Augustine, Harrison and Hillcrest were helpful when he became an all in one teacher, coach, and radio talk show host. Butch understood the importance of role models; they came from the home. He never forgot hearing NBA Legend Spencer Haywood say “If you have got to look beyond your dinner table for your heroes and role models you are in trouble.”

 

Butch never gave it a second thought when sporting personalities visited the Saturday Program. As a youngster he thought this was the norm.

 

I remember Butch asking me after he became a well known radio personality, “Harold, where and how did you come up with the saying ‘Every black face you see is not your brother and every white face you see is not your enemy.’” This was a popular phrase I used to close my sports talk show ‘Inside Sports.’ I had to take him back to the Hillcrest Children’s Center Saturday program. I reminded him of the 1968 riots and when I first opened the doors to the Saturday Program.

 

I reminded him I tried to recruit black students at Howard University to volunteer and take a 10 minute walk from the campus to Hillcrest to tutor elementary school students. There were none to be found.

 

The Director of Hillcrest Children’s Center, Dr. Nicholas Long, introduced me to the principal of the Seven Day Adventist School in Takcoma Park, Maryland. The rest is community history. On Saturdays a group of white teenagers were bussed into the inner-city to tutor black children. Today all over America, college students are given credits for volunteering.

 

They joined Redskins Larry Brown, Roy Jefferson, Harold McLinton and Ted Vactor and Baltimore Colts’ players Lenny Moore, Johnny Sample, Tim Baylor, Lydell Mitchell, Glen Doughty and Sanders Shivers. Baltimore Bullets’ sensation Earl “The Pearl” Monroe was also a part of the revolving door of professional athletes who helped launch the program. They cared long before the NBA and NFL.

 

I also reminded him of my unique relationship with NBA Legendary coach Red Auerbach and the benefactors of Kids In Trouble and Inside Sports who were all black. They all forgot who they were and where they came from. They inspired the phrase, “Every black face I see is not my brother and every white face I see is not my enemy.”

 

Butch would often close his show with my phrase and remind everyone that I coined it. This is unheard of in this “dog eat dog” media culture where everyone takes someone else’s idea and uses it as if it were their very own (case in point Inside Sports). It reminds me of the story of Christopher Columbus discovering America with Native Indians already occupying the land.

 

Butch is very unique. There were times when I would question his response and observations as it related to his sports talk show. He never took it personal. This is an unheard quality not often found in black men in America. We take everything personally, and when we do take a stand, it is usually for all the wrong reasons.

 

Butch McAdams, you are a unique coach in “The Game Called Life.”

 

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