After more than 40 years, Dr. Clyde Young still provides the soundtrack for Legion games
By Anna Eyler
An 89-year-old native of Salisbury, Dr. Clyde Young is well known around Newman Park during the American Legion Baseball season as the trumpet man. Although Young cannot remember the first time he played at Newman park in the 1960s, he does recall that it seemed to be appreciated, and he was asked to return.
And return he did. Becoming a permanent fixture at the park, Young can be seen retiring to his “perch” in the top row of the stands after giving a rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner,” where he can observe the game and every once in a while can be heard adding his own unique “spark” to the occasion.
A children’s dentist for 43 years, Young says he was fortunate enough to have been able to make a living out of the two things that he really loved to do: dentistry and playing his trumpet. Young said there weren’t many doctors who could claim to have former patients that remembered their dentists with fondness, but he could. Similarly, Young has received compliments during his years performing at the ball field.
“At my age particularly, I’m flattered to be invited and to be of service,” Young said.
A World War II veteran, Young makes sure to sound the five service songs — the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard anthems — during the first few innings of every game. Keeping a notepad by his side, Young glances down at his playlist as the innings tick off just to be certain that he does not forget any one song. He laughingly commented that if he did forget an anthem, one of the “old service guys” would be sure to let him know.
“So I’ll go along, and getting late in the ball game and I haven’t played one of the songs, one of the old guys will send me a message telling me, ‘You haven’t played the Marine song yet,’ ” Young said.
Looking around the crowd, Young observes that over there is Joe Taylor, an old Navy man. Taylor turns around to acknowledge Young whenever he plays “Anchors Away.” On the other side is the mayor of Cleveland. Knowing that he was in the Air Force, and that he’ll want to hear his song, Young plays that service’s anthem, “The U.S. Air Force.”
“It’s easy to be patriotic if you think about it a little bit,” Young noted.
Young’s wife, Libby, often accompanies him to American Legion games. Not really a sports fan before their marriage, Libby admits that she has since come to know and appreciate the family atmosphere of the baseball crowd at Newman Park. Watching out for her husband, she takes note of the care that people show towards him as he interacts with the players and the fans.
“It just makes me feel so proud, and just so wonderful and good, that they appreciated him,” Libby said, recalling occasions when fans applauded her husband’s rendition of this song or that.
Altering his playlist to fit the mood, Young tries to stay aware of the action on the field, adding a few bars of song between innings to occupy the crowd. “I try to stay alert,” Young said. Taking into account the weather or holidays, he might play “Stormy Weather,” or for something patriotic, he may play “America the Beautiful.”
“It’s a God-given talent that I can pick it up, whatever key it’s in, as long as I know what note it starts on.” Young explained. Whenever complimented, Young responds with his stock answer: “Let me know if I start stinking up, ’cause I might not realize it, you know. So let me know if I start stinking up, ’cause I can lay it down and still get along all right, appreciate the days in the past 20, 30 years.”