The Charles R. Reid Story
Portrait of a Great Man
Charles Rogers Reid was the second of thirteen children of Thomas Henry Reid Sr. and Virginia Parker Reid. He was born September 22, 1898, in Angels Camp, California, grew up in Berkeley, and spent much of his adult life in Richmond, California.
Died March 23, 1979
Charles R. Reid was a man who has been dedicated to keeping kids interested in sports and away from the evil influences of corner pool halls and rowdy gangs.
He is not a member of any service club in town and chances are he may never be named "Man of the Year" here. But Charley Reid has done more to combat juvenile delinquency and racial disturbances than any other individual in Richmond.
Reid, a spry 60, has been playground director at Shields Park in North Richmond since 1947. During that time hundreds of boys and girls have come to him for advice and counseling in matters not necessarily pertaining to sports.
He has gained the confidence of the youngsters because of his friendly way and his deep-rooted desire to help them regardless of the day, the time, or the place.
The parents of these kids may be too busy chasing after a good time or an extra dollar to sit down with them and try to iron out their problems. But Charley Reid is never too busy to come to the aid of a youngster.
Always he is out either talking with the kids, showing them the proper way to shoot a basketball, throw a curve ball, pace themselves for a track event, or grip the bat to lay down a bunt.
He knows what he is talking about because Charley Reid was a gifted athlete in his youth who used to pitch shutouts at the old First Street diamond in Richmond and race 100-yard dashes in 10 flat at Berkeley High and maneuver a basketball with the deft touch of a skillful pro.
"I played for the Pierce Giants, one of the best colored teams in the country," Charley recalls.
"I used to pitch against such stars as Chick Hafey, Buzz Arlett, Ernie Lombardi, Lefty Gomez, and Walter Mails."
"One Sunday we played the Mails All-Stars at the First Street diamond in Richmond. Mails threw the fastest ball I ever saw--or didn't see. No, I didn't get any hits. We lost, 7-2."
"I played for several other semi-pro teams in Vallejo, Martinez, and just about every city in Northern California. Sometimes I made as much as $100 for pitching one ball game."
"I pitched the best game of my life in 1923 against the Healdsburg club, the best semi-pro team in the state. Pop Arlett handled the club. I threw a one-hitter--and still lost, 1-0."
Loudest Ump In Town
Charley started to umpire baseball games when he moved from Berkeley to Richmond in 1934.
According to such baseball old-timers here as Babe Matteri and Frank Banducci, there was none better than Charley in calling balls and strikes.
"Reid has a terrific eye," said Banducci. "He knew his baseball and gained the respect of all the players. I never saw anyone purposely give Charley Reid a bad time."
"I umpired three games every night except Saturday and when I called the pitches," said Charley, "everybody for blocks around could hear me. There were a lot of good players around here in those days and the Sunday games were always well-attended."
"I remember one game between Filice and Perrelli against Ford Motor Company that drew 5,000 people to Nicholl Park.”You don't get those kinds of crowds here anymore."
Reid, among his other attributes, is a great organizer.
"When I lived in Oakland," said Charley, "I got all the mothers in the neighborhood to go out and play softball once a week. They got to be pretty good at it, too. I know they were sure sorry to see me leave the neighborhood. That's when they all stopped playing softball."
Play Until Midnight
Shields Park, under Reid's direction, has been the most active playground in the area. "Every night we get from 50 to 75 boys out for basketball," said Charley. "They have to wait in line to get a turn on the court. But everybody is patient and no one raises a fuss."
"Quite a few of the fellows who play on the high school teams at Richmond, El Cerrito, Harry Ells, and DeAnza come over and sharpen their game. They all seem to have a good time."
"We have had some fine players develop right at Shields Park. I mean fellows like Eural McKelvey and J.D. Banks, who are now with the Harlem Clowns, and Clyde Hardeman and Carl Lawson and Babe Ruth Williams.
What made these boys so good was the constant practice. Did you know on Lincoln's Birthday we had 100 boys playing basketball at Shields Park up to midnight?"
"Sports are the best thing for them. It helps keep their bodies and minds busy. They don't have time to get into trouble”.
"Colored and white play together".
(From the column "On The Level" by Richmond Independent Sports Editor Ed Levitt 1958/1959)
Let’s Work Together
Charles R. Reid, with a lot of help from his friends, sponsored the annual Christmas Party in 1947 and has been offering the Christmas spirit to underprivileged youth in the Greater Richmond Community every year since.
With your help, we have sponsored summer and winter camps, and events, and have donated toys, candy, bicycles, and clothing to thousands of kids from Richmond and surrounding communities. Either donate here or contact us for more information on how to support CRF and the spirit of service.