Baseball legend Willie Horton with students at Northwestern High School in Detroit, MI, October 18, 2010.
By Talitha Johnson, Detroit Contributor
Detroit is home to many legends, first Henry Ford, then Berry Gordy and the magic of Motown, and now Detroit baseball legend Willie Horton.
In 2004, the State of Michigan named October 18 its official Willie Horton Day. Horton was honored for two reasons: his birthday and his momentous achievements in baseball.
Several community and civic leaders joined Horton at his alma mater, Northwestern High School, to help celebrate his special day. Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown, State Representative Fred Durhal, Jr. and Joe Barber, president of Northwestern High School Alumni Association all gave remarks and high accolades to the baseball legend. Executives from the Detroit Tigers baseball organization were also in attendance.
During the event, Horton greeted the audience of civic leaders, staff, faculty and students alike, as he delivered an inspirational speech about the importance of setting goals and reaching one’s dreams.
Horton is the fourth person in Michigan recognized with a day, with the late Rosa Parks as the third honoree. The United States Military honored him with the highest honor a civilian could receive for his humanitarian efforts.
Horton has played with six American League teams, most notably the Detroit Tigers, which he boasts 14 seasons and had played a pivotal role in leading the team to its 1968 World Championship. Throughout his career, he became a seven-time-all-star baseball player. The American League eventually recognized him as its top designated hitter. Horton now serves as the special assistant to Tigers President, CEO and General Manager David Dombrowski.
Horton remains engaged with the Detroit community through philanthropy. He works in partnership with local organizations, including a $5,000 scholarship he awards to Northwestern High School.