Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
Joe Gaines ’55
When I was a kid, I played baseball all day long in the summers at Bushrod. We were there by 10:00 and just on our own, we played all day. In the evenings, we’d go to the Coast League Stadium. This had a lot to do with my wanting to play professional ball. In high school at Tech, I played football too, but the coach told me to pick one sport because playing both football and baseball, I could get hurt. Al Kyte was the coach and he was pretty strict. He made you grow up pretty fast. He made us go to class and the teachers made sure you stayed on track. That was the main thing I did at Tech. Sports. I had no plans for college. There were no sports scholarships back then.
After high school, I played professional baseball and in the summers I played in Puerto Rico. I played through 1969 and it was like with the owner of that LA team now. I was one of the only blacks on the team. When we traveled in the south especially, I had to stay in a separate facility. It was really tough. You had to really want to do it. People would say stuff. I didn’t realize what it was like until I went away. It was a shock and I had to be strong. The last year I played in Japan, it was even worse than it was here. I played in Puerto Rico in the offseasons, so I was playing year-round with no time for my body to rest.
The first winter I stayed home, I got lucky. I went into Roger’s downtown and got offered a job. I was there for 17 years. I enjoyed selling clothes more. Then I worked at Smith’s and then at C & R Clothing, Cutler Brothers and Men’s Warehouse. I did a little coaching with the semi-pro team Gallagher’s. And I went to the dedication of Ricky Henderson Field in 2009.
I married my high school girlfriend and had two kids. That marriage didn’t last and now I am remarried. I’ve got 3 grandkids.