November 29, 2020

Letter to the Editor: Appreciation to the people of McAlester

Baseball Host Family and Team Georgia Players in McAlester, OK (L-R): Reed Robinson (Bowdon), Lee Kay (Heard County), Mary and Phillip Burris, Garret Marchman (Greenbriar), Mary and Phillip's grandson Mac

Host Family with Team Georgia Players in McAlester, OK (L-R): Reed Robinson (Bowdon), Lee Kay (Heard County), Mary and Phillip Burris, Garret Marchman (Greenbriar), Mary and Phillip’s grandson Mac.

[Editor’s Note: The following was written by the mother of Bowdon baseball player Reed Robinson. She traveled to Oklahoma for the all-star baseball tournament last week and wanted to share these nice thoughts with the public. Heard County’s own Lee Kay (a Team Georgia teammate of Reed) stayed with the same host family mentioned here. Team Georgia placed third in the tourney.]

Dear Editor,

Once a year, the people of McAlester, Oklahoma host the Sunbelt Classic baseball tournament.

As I packed and traveled west I expected this to be a week-long baseball tournament, just like the others. You know the drill. But within a few hours of arriving, I realized something was different.

As I wheeled into the game and walked up, I heard ‘It’s Reed’s mom!’

These are the warmest, friendliest, greatest people you may ever meet. A host family takes three boys for the week.

Our sweet family was Phillip and Mary Burris and their grandchildren Mac and Macala. They all take these baseball boys as their own. ‘My boys’, they all say. They literally treat these kids from across the US and Canada as if they are their own children.

These families house them, feed them, wash their uniforms and clothes daily, and take them to every game. They stay for the games (two per day) and cheer these kids on — as if they are their own. Yes, some are even louder than myself.

They entertain our boys – bowling, swimming, fishing, noodling, movie theater, and cookouts. They shuttle them all over town. The parents that travel to this tournament are made to feel like family or neighbors.

They invite us into their homes, offer us food, take us to dinner, shopping — they entertain us. (Philip and Mary took the boys and parents to a nice dinner one evening and we were introduced to Lamb Fries.)

When we offer to help with our boys, they politely remind us they have it, and we stand back a little, and we remember these are their boys for the week.

A lot of the families have been hosting for 10-15 plus years. You quickly learn it’s a week they look forward to and are sad to see end. To the parents in Georgia that couldn’t make the trip – know that your boys were well taken care of.

As I packed to leave, a part of me wanted to stay. The entire week took me back a few decades and to my childhood, to a life that is rare in this day and time. The people and the town are genuine — real, peaceful, and happy. Things are slower paced than back home.

I would say this little town is the heart of these United States. If we could all be a little more like the people of McAlester, Oklahoma, what a wonderful world this would be.

Peggy Robinson

Bowdon, GA


  1. Pam Groom says

    Missed going this year…feels like I missed out on a summer break fun time! My cousins Dusty and Misty Vicars host Team Canada boys every year. Last year my son and I witnessed the very thing that was mentioned in the above article . They open their home and their hearts to these boys and enjoy every single minute of it! What an experience for all involved! McAlester is a great place with great people!

Leave a Reply to Pam Groom Cancel reply

%d bloggers like this: