- Grit, Guts, and Baseball: The Story of Sank Powe, Edited and Told by Beth Boswell Jacks (1996)
by Aaron Smyser (SHS)
When someone accomplishes something great, that’s what people remember. However, how a person goes about accomplishing this great achievement is just as important as the accomplishment itself. Thus the story of Sank Powe.
Sank Powe was born in Mound Bayou near Cleveland, Mississippi. He has lived there all his life. When he was young, he had a dream, a dream of playing baseball. Mr. Powe, however, lived in difficult times, the time of segregation. Along his way, through school and tough times, he could always depend on his mother to be there for him. Their bond grew closer and closer as time went on. Sometimes Sank could not understand why people could be so mean to each other and would often times come home very upset; yet his mother was there for him to give him love and guidance (GG&B). He also found guidance and comfort in the close friendship of Coach Heart. Even through all the troubled times there was one constant in his life and that was baseball (Clarion Ledger).
Baseball was life to him. He had high aspirations of playing in the pro’s. After high school he went to college at Jackson State. There he played for the Jackson State Tigers where he played catcher and did quite well (GG&B). At last he had a chance to achieve his dream of playing pro when he was invited to tryout at the St. Louis Cardinals camp. Although very talented and skilled, on the ninth day of tryouts, he quit. He hated the thought of that, but his arm was hurting, he was banged up, and he needed to graduate (just three more hours).
After he quit, he told himself from that point on that he would never ever give up and quit on anything or anyone ever. Quitting, according to Powe “is a sick, rotten feeling– and deserved.” He carried that thought with him for the rest of his life (GG&B). Although he was destined not to play in the pro’s, he became the head baseball coach at Cleveland High school. There he taught his players how to play the great game, and something far more important: a life lesson. This lesson was simple and short, NEVER QUIT (GG&B, Clarion Ledger).
He also taught them to respect one another and others as well. He was quoted once as saying “not slicing the enemy, but niceing the enemy.” This attitude was put to the test when he encountered the KKK on a bus ride home from one his games. Although scared as well as furious to have to see them and let them shove flyers in his face, he sat there and kept quiet and then drove quickly home. Once he was safely home once more, his mother was there to make him feel better, safe, and loved again just like when he was younger (GG&B).
I guess that one could call Mr. Sank Powe an example to live by, with his never-quit and respectful attitude. He is everything that someone wants his children to imitate. His current baseball players have that chance every day at practice, where Sank is in complete control. Some of the things that he has said to students have become famous quotes in the Cleveland area. They have become known as Poweisms (GG&B). One of my personal favorites is the quote “If you don’t like my instructions, then don’t hesitate to keep your mouth shut.” You can read all about Sank Powe’s life as well as some other Poweisms in the book Grit, Guts, and Baseball, edited and told by Beth Boswell Jacks, whose son has had the privilege of playing under Coach Sank. Sank Powe is one of the quiet heroes in people’s lives.
A Review of Grits, Guts, and Baseball
by Aaron Smyser (SHS)
Personally to me, the book Grits, Guts, and Baseball: The Story of Coach Sank Powe is a tale of a hero. When you look at the life of Sank Powe, what he has been through, what he has had to overcome, and how he did it, one can’t help but refer to the man as a hero.
This book taught me as well as it will teach anyone who might read it a life lesson that is very simple: don’t quit. Quitting, according to Powe is “a rotten feeling” and “well deserved.” I agree with this statement totally. I hate quitting, and I really enjoyed reading about someone else who has the same attitude. However, Sank Powe also shows courage in dealing with life’s everyday problems. He lived during the troubled times of segregation and had to have courage just to make it through the day.
His mother was always there for him in those times when he needed advice, love, or just a hug. We all need encouragement sometimes, and that is exactly what Coach Sank Powe gives to his players as he is the head coach of the Cleveland High School baseball team. His Poweisms (or sayings that have become famous in the area) are well known to all his players, and they apply them to everyday life. For example “If you don’t like my instructions, don’t hesitate to keep your mouth shut.” It’s sayings like these that help people live life in ways that are respectful and good for everyone.
- Jacks, Beth Boswell, ed. Grit, Guts, & Baseball: The Story of Sank Powe. Lee Sanford Publishers, 1996.
- McCormick, Mary Dale McCormick. “Grit, Guts, & Baseball.” Delta Book News, 1996.
- Cleveland, Rick. “Cleveland High’s Powe has story worth telling.” Clarion-Ledger, 1993.
- Hood, Orley. “Sank Powe wins a lot more than mere ball games.” Clarion-Ledger, 1997.
- “Sank Powe Home Page.” Available at http://www.tecinfo.com/~jaxgbt/Powe/, May 17, 1999.