Former sports commentator and likable versatile athlete Kevin ‘Tux’ Tucker, who had tried his hand at football and baseball, has passed on. The 77-year-old former Ramblers Sport Club baseball player died in his native Cape Town, South Africa earlier this week to be reunited with his beautiful wife Denise, who predeceased him two years earlier.
The author had the distinct honour of knowing Tucker up close during his stay in the city of bright lights (Windhoek), just shortly after Namibia gained her much-anticipated independence from Apartheid South Africa in 1990.
Tellingly, my live television analysis/commentary debut on NBC TV was in the good company of Tucker, stationed as anchor alongside the legendary Frank Fredericks during the 1996 Afcon finals in South Africa.
We struck a long-lasting camaraderie ever since and I would often spend quality time with the easy-going Englishman and our good friend Sebastian Kamungu whenever time permitted.
We made it our sole beat to converge at the popular Tucker’s Tavern in the run-down Hansa Hotel, holed up in Ausspanplatz, casually guzzling few tots of Red Heart and Coke, just to while away time after working hours.
It’s now my honour, moral duty and obligation to pay a dignified tribute to this great man of substance, who has certainly left lasting deep tracks behind in his temporary adopted home Namibia. Go well Tucker...May your gentle soul rest easy.
orn Kevin Tucker in Cape Town on 3 August 1945, the easy-going trendsetter arrived in the then Apartheid South West Africa (SWA) from across the Orange River to settle peacefully in Windhoek in the late 70s.
His arrival in Namibia almost coincided with that of professional footies, who descended on the country en masse, shepherded by Vic Lovell, Peter Rath, Wolfgang Fleishhammel, Ziggi Anderson and few others, plying their trade with semi-professional outfit Windhoek City.
City was campaigning in the highly-competitive South African Professional Football second-tier league and gravely needed proper reinforcements if they were to compete on equal footing.
In the meantime, the well-spoken Tucker wasted little time and joined Ramblers’ baseball team. He immediately won the hearts of local sports enthusiasts with his charm and became an easily-recognised face in social circles.
Regrettably, Windhoek City folded after authorities reluctantly or rather half-heartedly resolved to abolish racial segregation, thus paving the way for mixed-race sport, which culminated in the unavoidable birth of the multi-racial sport in Apartheid South West Africa (SWA) in 1977.
Tucker always chilled with his South African compatriots, marshaled by big frame shot-stopper Lovell, Anderson, Austrian import Rath, cool-as-cucumber Scottish defender Ian Wood, George Hill and Ronnie Hoole, who were later all taken up in the newly-formed Combined Banks/City United Football Club, under the stewardship of shrewd football guru, the late uncle Bobby Sissing.
However, the new kid on the block (City United) did not last long in the new setup and soon undertook the inevitable path of the dinosaurs; never to be heard of again.
Nevertheless, Tucker would go on to form a telepathic partnership in the fearless Ramblers’ baseball team alongside fellow veteran Capetonian Ivan Wellington and the evergreen Peter Snyman.
Tucker will go down in history as one of the finest imports to have ever played baseball on Namibian soil and was without an iota of doubt one of the most accomplished sports commentators of his era. Back in his native mother city, he played social league football and baseball for local clubs in the Western Cape.
Upon retirement from playing competitive sport, Tucker who demonstrated an aura of unquenchable affection towards the oval ball game (rugby), joined the Cape Sidecar Adventures, Western Cape, taking tourists on sidecar tours around Hout Bay and surrounding areas.
Even though the game of baseball is not very popular amongst the majority of indigenous Namibians up to this day, it has always been played for many years, notably amongst the affluent community of Caucasian descent.
In the meantime, tributes are pouring for the departed true son of the soil. Callie Schafer said, “He was a great guy RIP”.
Lindsay Scott said, “Tuckers Tavern, Ah, those were the gut ol days, some debauchery took place in the little rooms out back - RIP Tux”
Bobby Craddock said, “RIP Kev”
Hannes von Holtz said, “Very sad learning about Kev’s untimely passing, he was such a great personality...may his soul rest in peace.
But who invented baseball?
Well, many may have heard that a young fellow named Abner Doubleday, invented the game known today as baseball in Cooperstown, New York during the summer of 1839. He then went on to become a Civil War hero while baseball became America’s most sought-after national pastime.
However, not only is that narrative untrue, it’s not even in the ballpark because baseball’s real origins date back way further to at least the 18th century.
In 1907, 16 years after Doubleday’s death, a special commission created by the sporting goods magnate and former major league player A.J. Spalding was set up to determine baseball’s origins, namely if it was really invented in the United States, or derived from games in the United Kingdom.
As it turns out, the real history of baseball is a little more complicated than the Doubleday legend. References to games resembling baseball in the USA date back to the 18th century.
Its most direct ancestors appear to be two English games: rounders (a children’s game brought to New England by the earliest colonists), and cricket. By the time of the American revolution, variations of such games were being played on schoolyards and college campuses across the country.
They became even more popular in newly-industrialised cities where men sought work in the mid-18th century. Volunteer firefighter and bank clerk Alex Joy Cartwright would codify a new set of rules that would form the basis for modern baseball, calling for diamond-shaped infield-foul lines, and the three-strike rule.
He also abolished the dangerous practice of tagging runners by throwing balls at them. Cartwright’s changes made the burgeoning pastime faster-paced and more challenging while clearly differentiating from older games like cricket.
In 1846, the Knickerbockers played their first official game of baseball against a team of cricket players, beginning a new, uniquely American tradition.
-Additional info: Wikipedia/baseballhistory