THE BILL YANCEY EXPERIENCE (Dave Kaplan, February 28, 2024, Ball9)

At 76, Larry Hisle is one of baseball’s revered elders, a soft-spoken sage who has empowered at-risk children and troubled teens in the Milwaukee area over the last three decades.

Mentoring young people, helping them conquer personal hardship and self-doubt remains his inner passion. Actually, Hisle’s well-known strength in kindness recalls his own long-ago mentor.

“I can’t help but smile whenever I think of Bill Yancey,” said Hisle, who played 14 productive seasons with the Phillies, Twins and Brewers before retiring in 1982. “The man could not have been more encouraging, more motivating, more inspiring to me.”

Hisle, who grew up an orphan in southern Ohio, was once an insecure rookie with the Phillies, a team flaring with racial tensions. He lived alone and suffered acute anxiety and hepatitis.

Enter Bill Yancey, a genial veteran of the Negro Leagues in the 1920s and ‘30s, and later a pioneering Black major-league scout in the 1950s. He had just returned to his native Philadelphia in spring 1969 for his second stint as a Phillies area scout.

Yancey, who navigated racism and structural unfairness his entire life, saw in Hisle a fragile young man who’d been the target of a Ku Klux Klan rally in the minors. He saw a potential casualty to the racism that ultimately victimized Dick Allen, the franchise’s first Black star.

So he invited Hisle to live with him and his wife in their Moorestown, NJ house that season. Hisle savored Louise Yancey’s home cooking, and her husband’s unshakable lessons in resilience. Yancey’s guidance, he said, probably saved his career.