Honoring My Father: Tommy Newsome

Tommy Newsome Article Clipping Photo

Tommy Newsome, as he was known as a child, was stricken with polio in 1946 at age 5. Polio significantly impacted the development of his right leg, and he wore and continues to wear a leg brace on that right leg and uses crutches to get around.  While he loved sports as a boy and was a good athlete, the leg brace limited his ability to participate in sports on an official basis.  The Park Cities YMCA let him play tackle football for the Bradfield teams from 4th-6th grade while he wore his leg brace and used his crutches.

In addition to playing football for the Park Cities YMCA, he attended Camp Grady Spruce in the late 1940s-early 1950s where he played many games of baseball in sticker burr field.  He would have a designated runner near him when he batted.  If the designated runner reached base safely, Tommy would then replace the designated runner and use his crutches to hustle around the bases when the next batters hit.  He used his height to provide a tall target while playing first base in the field.  I later had his first baseman’s mitt.

Tommy never let his handicap reduce his effort or interfere with him just being one of the boys.  As he wrote to me: “The Y offered a young boy with a significant handicap an opportunity to join his peers in organized athletics.  For him, that was a very meaningful decision.  For the Y, it could not have been easy.  As an 81-year-old grown man, that boy in me remains grateful.”

As Tom Newsome’s son, I am grateful for the Y and others who allowed my dad to live life as normally as possible despite his handicap.  He coached my soccer teams, threw the football and baseball with me, hit ground balls to me, took me bird hunting while he also traipsed through fields on his crutches while carrying his shotgun, beat me in golf every time (he was a 12 handicap through age 65) and provided an example of how to overcome.  While I never had to overcome polio, I am a better person for being raised by my dad who overcame it and set an example for others to overcome.

W. Bruce Newsome, Board Member - YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas