Everett Adrian “Buddy” Lively, whose fastball took him out of a farm in rural Gardendale, Ala., and into the Major Leagues, died on Sunday, July 12, 2015. He was 90.
A visitation will be held at Valhalla Funeral Home in Huntsville, Ala., on Thursday, July 16 at noon followed by the service at 1 p.m.
Born February 14, 1925 in Birmingham, Ala., Lively’s pitching arm was strengthened and trained as a child by his father, Jack Lively, who had pitched for the Detroit Tigers in 1911. Buddy Lively signed his first baseball contract in 1941 at the age of 16. His “hop” on his fastball got him a spot on the Birmingham Barons, a farm club in the Southern Association owned by the Cincinnati Reds.
He entered military service with the Army in 1944 with basic training at Fort Bliss, Texas, and was transported to Europe on the Queen Mary on December 17, 1944. He arrived in Glasgow, Scotland and soon crossed the Channel to France. Lively, as part of the 597th Anti-Aircraft Battalion, advanced through France, Belgium and Holland with General Patton’s Third Army. His three-gun battery was subsequently assigned to the British 2nd Army and as a result Lively missed the Battle of the Bulge.
He was in Munich when the war ended. He and his buddies played baseball in Berchtesgaden, the site of Hitler’s “Eagles Nest” fortress in the Bavarian mountains. Some of those buddies also became major leaguers including his teammate Ewell “The Whip” Blackwell.
He returned from military service in 1946 and was signed by the Cincinnati Reds for $5,000.
Lively also got an up-close look at history in the making during his first year in the majors in 1947 when Jackie Robinson, also a rookie, broke the color barrier in professional baseball. “It was an interesting time,” said Lively in an article in the Huntsville Times. “He (Jackie Robinson) took a lot of abuse. He was spit on and called every name you can think of. But he never reacted. He could have gone crazy, gone berserk, and I wouldn’t have thought anything about it. I admired him for what he went through and the way he handled it.”
In another interview with the Huntsville Times, Lively said of Robinson: “One of the most infuriating things that can happen to a pitcher is to have someone steal home on him. Jackie did it to me in Brooklyn and I still remember it today as if it happened yesterday. My only consolation is that my name does not stand alone in the record book for this category.”
In 1949, he had an operation to remove a bone spur beneath his right shoulder blade. He never returned to the majors. He finished his career in the International League in 1955 at the age of 30. In 1960 he went to work for NASA where he worked until retiring in 1984.
Mr. Lively was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 52 years Mary “Mimi” Lively, his parents Henry Everett “Jack” Lively and Minerva “Minnie” Jeffers Lively, and brother John Henry Lively. He is survived by brother Frank Pruitt Lively of Huntsville, nieces Laura Lively Charlton (Lynn) of Huntsville and their children Tyler Lively Charlton and John Cary Charlton, Dianne Lively Yost (Patrick) of Madison, Ga. and their children Zachary Everett Yost, Grace Elizabeth Yost and Harrison Frank Yost, a nephew Richard McColly of Port Charlotte, Fla., and his children Amy McColly McCabe and Dawn McColly Richa.
Mr. Lively was surrounded by caring neighbors for whom his family is sincerely grateful.