Aaron Pointer - A Man For All Seasons

added 9/24/2009 by Dr. Bill McCurdy

The All-Rookie Lineup with Aaron Pointer (top center).
(c) Houston Astros.

(Editor's Note: This column is reprinted with permission from Dr. McCurdy's blog The Pecan Park Eagle and supplemented with information from a Seattle Times article published in 2006.)

Aaron Pointer (Batted Right/Threw Right; Outfielder) has to be one of the best examples of how life sometimes arms certain people with talents that could take them in several varied directions but, all the while, these opportunities are rising and falling constantly with how the individual makes and uses the decisions he or she finally decides to take responsibility for putting into motion.

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas on April 19. 1942, but raised in Oakland, California, Aaron Pointer was the son a of a preacher man and his wife, the Reverend Elton and Sarah Elizabeth Pointer. Aaron's older brother Fritz was also a gifted amateur athlete who grew up to be a college English professor and published author. Aaron's younger sisters, Ruth, Anita, Bonnie, and June stormed the entertainment world from the early 1970s forward as the fabulous Pointer Sisters.

Pointer served as President of the Student Body at McClymonds High School, where he also excelled in baseball, football, and basketball. McClymonds in Oakland just happens to be the same school that also gave the world Bill Russell in basketball and Frank Robinson in baseball. After his high school graduation, Pointer entered San Francisco University on a basketball scholarship, with an understanding that he would also be allowed to play baseball. A chronic sore arm knocked Pointer out of his plans to continue baseball as a pitcher at SFU. Aaron was still good enough as a position player to attract the attention of the Houston Colt .45s as an outfield prospect. He signed with Houston in 1961 for a bonus of $30,000 and was assigned to Class D Salisbury and what turned out to be a memorable season.

North Carolina was a different world for Pointer after growing up on the West Coast. This was a time when the South still had segregated hotels, restrooms and even drinking fountains. During one game, Pointer was fired upon by someone in the stands with a BB gun.

Aaron Pointer
(c) Houston Astros

Perhaps fueled by his emotion, Aaron Pointer batted .402 in 93 games for Salisbury (132 hits in 329 at bats) in 1961 with 19 doubles, 14 triples, and 7 home runs. By breaking the .400 mark, Pointer became the last professional baseball player to exceed that magic mark over a full summer of play. (Rookie League and Mexican League marks are not considered as data on this achievement trail.) Pointer was given the choice by his manager of sitting out the final day of the season in order to preserve the milestone but, like Ted Williams did in 1941, Pointer refused and went 2-for-3 to set the mark.

At season's end, Pointer was called up to the 1961 AAA Houston Buffs in time to also hit .375 (3-for-8) in four games. After 1961, Aaron Pointer would never again have another lights-out year over the course of his up-and-down career.

On September 27, 1963, he was part of an all-rookie lineup that remains on record as the youngest lineup in MLB history, with an average age of 19. Joe Morgan, Rusty Staub and Jim Wynn were the only three players that went on to great careers from that group of promising rookies.

By breaking in with the 1963 Colt .45s and then coming back with the 1966-67 Astros, Aaron Pointer also placed himself in an uncommon category for former Houston Buffs. Pointer was one of only three professional baseball players who actually performed for Houston under all three of their identities - as Buffs, Colt .45s, and Astros. (Ron Davis and Dave Giusti were the other two. Pidge Browne, Jim Campbell and J.C. Hartman also played for both the Buffs and .45s, but not the Astros.)

After being traded to the Chicago Cubs organization in 1968, Aaron Pointer spent all of 1969 at Tacoma, Washington. He finished that season with a career batting average of .272. He then put his possessions in storage while he played three mediocre seasons in Japan and also tried his luck in Mexico. Finally, at age 30, he retired from baseball.

Returning to his adopted home in Tacoma, Pointer went to work for the Pierce County Parks and Recreation Department, supervising their athletics programs. He started officiating high school football games, then became the first black to officiate in the Pac-10 Conference, eventually working himself up to the NFL as a game official from 1987 to 2003. He now serves as a member of the board for the Tacoma Athletic Commission. In June 2008, Aaron Pointer was inducted into the Tacoma Hall of Fame.

Pointer with his Sisters. Pointer in 2006.

Photos from the Pointer family and the Seattle Times.

Baseball may not have been his life's calling, but every step in his life led to another opportunity.

"I tell kids this all the time," Pointer told the Seattle Times in 2006. "At some point in someone's life, even yours, there's going to be an opportunity. You've got to be prepared. Too many kids don't take advantage of preparing themselves. Too many kids think the easy way is the best way."

What a life path! Godspeed, Aaron Pointer! And may your senior days be mellow and bright!

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