By Fred Turner
Members of Brother-to-Brother, an interdenominational Christian/ Community organization of 70 (+) African American men who meet weekly for prayer and study, witnessed a conversation last week between two African American sports icons, Joe Morgan and Clem Daniels.
Both were outstanding athletes, both were MVPs (Most Valuable Players) and both were born in Texas. Joe was born in Bonham and Clem in McKinney, just 40 miles from each other. They have been friends for over 62 years and have traveled throughout the country golfing, dining and just having pure fun.
Although they were both from Texas, their acquaintance came later and they became fast friends. Joe recalls, “I always admired Clem. He and Art Shell, and Gene Upshaw were fine players and men of integrity. They were always outstanding community people.”
Joe, a baseball Hall of Famemember, also agrees with theirmutual friend Bill Patterson that Clem should also be enshrined into the NFL Hall of Fame. The Brother to Brother organization is launching a community drive to have Clem honored.
Through their instant friendship they became political allies and used their celebrity status to help elect Lionel Wilson as Oakland’s first Black mayor. Both Clem and Joe also worked on several alliances with other Black men. When Joe played for the Houston Astros, he was well-known for giving something back to the Houston community.
And when Clem played for the Oakland Raiders, he volunteered and contributed his time and money to those in need.
They both became very successful in their business ventures. Joe was the first African American to own a Coors distribution company, and Clem from his End Zone sports bar and restaurant became the President of Cal PAC, an organization that scored more than a million dollars in college scholarships for African American students.
Getting together this time was like a long overdue reunion because in the past year, at the age of 72, Joe had become extremely ill with MDS, a form of leukemia and a precursor to cancer. Fortunately, Joe became a participant in a trial program that required the participant to be paired with a blood donor with matching bone marrow.
After Joe’s siblings had volunteered to be tested and discovered that none of them were a suitable match Joe’s faith was tested. Holding back his tears, Joe smiled as he told how he had not known that his daughter Angela Morgan-Logan, an attorney in Dublin, had signed up on the registry more than 20 years ago. At that time, she had no idea that her selfless decision would be the saving grace for her father.
When she was contacted by the hospital to see if she was still willing to donate her blood, without hesitation she agreed.
Since the hospital’s confidentiality requirement didn’t reveal the name of the donor or the recipient, Angela had no idea that the recipient was her father. And when Joe was informed that there was a match, he had no idea that it was his daughter.
It was not until they got together and began to discuss the good news of the match did they realize that they were the donor and the recipient.
The goodness and graciousness of this family had come full circle! Joe and Clem both then pledged to continue to talk about the scarcity of and the need for more African American donors to join the registry. They promised to use their visibility and celebrity status to help create more “blood match makers.”
After eight months of excellent health, Joe feels better than ever. He smiles and says, “I have the blood of a 43-year-old. I am a new man because of my beautiful, selfless daughter, a wonderful committed wife, and the grace of God.”
Joe told the group of men who held hands in their circle of prayer “Be as good as you can be, especially when helping others.”
Clem said, “Document the good things in life, be aware of what’s going on around you, and be willing to stand up for what is important.”
Herbert Lofton, President of Brother-to-Brother said, “Both men had been blessed to have met each other and to share such a strong friendship bond. They both epitomize the mantra “I am My Brother’s Keeper. We will launch an effort to get our community to become bone marrow donors.”
Post Publisher Paul Cobb told Joe Morgan and the gathering of brothers that his story would be spread throughout more than 700 churches in the Bay Area. The Post News Group will help establish a network of those who will serve their communities with life-saving registration.
“If we can trust the saliva swab to discover our DNA roots, surely we can trust our blood to be available to save and extend each other’s lives,” said Cobb.
(Next: How we can be the match for some family member or neighbor. How our blood can be someone’s amazing saving grace.”)