Davises may strand a runner, but never a child

John Steadman

January 15, 1991|By John Steadman

With well-defined features, and elegant beauty, a delicate rosebud of a woman began to explain her past -- how it was growing up in Korea, moving to America and marrying a baseball player who became famous. Mrs. Glenn Davis, the former Teresa Kumin Beesley, is more than just another pretty face.

There's sensitivity, empathy and a feeling of profound caring within her, of doing something more in life than to merely pass through. Love for God and humanity is a personal mission. And all the rest of us, in this too often hard and selfish world, collect a dividend.

The riches her husband's ability has produced are being shared with others. Neglected kids from broken homes, battered youngsters who deserve an equitable chance in a decent environment and orphans with only a long-shot chance to succeed have drawn the attention of Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Davis, new to the Baltimore Orioles by virtue of a trade with the Houston Astros.

A refuge for those in need of help and understanding is being built in Columbus, Ga., by the Davises. It is to be known as the Carpenter's Way Ranch. Why the name? "Because carpenters are builders and Christ was a carpenter," she explained. "We want to build and to help."

The facility is non-denominational and children of all nationalities will be housed there. The construction is under way and each dinner table will have places for 16, including live-in "parents" who will create a family atmosphere and be addressed as mother and father. "They'll attend either public or private schools and we want to fund it so their educations will carry all the way through college. A board of directors will supervise the program."

Columbus is their home and both Teresa and Glenn are steeped in strong religious beliefs, yet not what could be construed as fanatical. "This home is something we both talked about and want. We aren't going to 'warehouse' children. We are realistic to know we can't save the whole world, but if we can help only one child it will be more than worthwhile."

That Teresa is married to a man who hits baseballs long distances and gets compensated handsomely for the effort is something she never could have imagined during her childhood in Seoul, where her father, Fred Beesley, was in the military. After discharge, he moved to Columbus, Ga. Across the street from where they lived was a player for the Columbus team, a farm club of the Astros, and member of the Southern League.

Boy met girl and he asked her to come watch him play. "It was a Friday night and I don't even know the name of the other team. But it was May 6, 1983. I had no idea what I saw. I didn't know baseball. In Korea it was soccer, martial arts and volleyball." But now she knows the sport's rules and subtleties and is pleased to recall the first time Glenn hit a major-league home run.

"The Astros' management allowed the manager, coaches and players to bring their wives on road trips. But I was the only player's wife who traveled with them. Some of Glenn's teammates called me the 'American Express Card Woman -- Don't Leave Home Without Her.' Manager Bill Willis' wife taught me how to keep score and, the first time I ever tried, Glenn hit a home run in San Francisco. I made a needlework of the scorecard. Bob Knepper, the winning pitcher, signed it and I have it in a frame."

She found out, too, the hard work baseball represents. After games in Houston, Glenn would wait until the park cleared and then take extra batting practice. "Often, we were the last ones to leave, late at night, and then the lights would be turned out."

Her claim -- not a brag -- about Glenn is he's the "most patient person I have ever known and is always sensitive to the needs of others. He never loses his temper. He's so good with children. For the last four years he has gone to Korea in the offseason to share his faith with the boys and girls and to teach them baseball. He loves it and they love him."

The Davises have three children of their own, ages 5 months to four years, and are grateful for all their blessings -- to the extent they feel compelled to reach out with helpful hands to others less fortunate. Their story is one that creates an inner glow that penetrates the soul. Baseball and America have reason to be proud.

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