Nathan Griffin - alias Sonny Weston "Run Like a Deer"
Run Like a Deer
Able to run like a deer, Nathan Griffin – “Sonny” Weston - born November 9th 1930 - played both center field and first base for the 1951 Chicago American Giants.
In the Spring of 1952, Griffin – then only 22 years of age - was invited to Fort Pierce, Florida to try out for the Chicago White Sox, where he was their final cut. Not to be denied, Weston then sent a letter to the famed Brooklyn Dodgers down in Vero Beach - the same team that employed the great Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Duke Snider.
Despite making it passed their first and second rounds of the pre-designated 3 Spring Training cuts, Mr. Griffin missed his opportunity to play in the Big Leagues again, becoming the last and final cut of the Dodgers in round three.
In addition to not making the squad, Griffin also regrets not getting his picture taken while wearing his Dodger uniform especially since he was given his idol’s number seventeen. The exact same number worn by the great Carl Erskin - a player Weston still admires to this day.
After retiring from baseball - because of the need of a full -time pay check - Mr. Weston joined the assembly lines over at the Ford Motor Company Stamping Plant in Chicago Heights, Illinois. There he moved up the ranks becoming a full time die-setter. After 42 years with the auto making plant, Weston finally retired, but retiring didn’t mean he quit working!
For a while even while still with Ford, Weston - born in East Chicago - held three other jobs including a limo driving service. “I always liked the way the drivers used to look, in their suits and ties,” Weston recalled. “They always were so sharply dressed.”
Already working part time inside at a nearby funeral home, Weston spoke to the owner and asked him if he got himself a Limo, would he be able to do some of the driving? The owner said yes, and still to this day, Weston, and sometimes his entire family drives friends and family to and from Church, funeral services and even to both of Chicago’s major International Airports.
While working his other jobs, Weston didn’t give up playing baseball. He continued to play in Chicago’s semipro Industrial Leagues batting second in the lineup to a former great player named Richie Hasmen - who ended most seasons hitting close to .400.
Not to be outdone, Weston - a Bloom Township High School Graduate and Graduate of Bloom City College - averaged .350+ himself, usually placed second in the league in hitting. Because of his 3-sport greatness, in February of 2009, Bloom Township High School retired his number in a ceremony conducted during the half-time of a major high school varsity basketball game.
His professional baseball career took Weston to the Chicago Heights Hornets. Then his baseball career took him to play for a white team called the Chicago Heights Athletics. Managing the A’s club was the ever popular Hap Bruno. Bruno was so popular in the Chicago Heights community that they later named the ball park, “Hap Field,” in his honor.
Today in his late seventies Weston - continues to run around working to stay active - but now he “only” works part time at one job! Driving his dear stretch limo.
Weston - the father of seven - has six boys and one girl. Aged between 27 and 60. They live all over the United States, mostly in nearby Wisconsin.
As a native of East Chicago Heights (now called Ford Heights) Weston and his wife Katherine now live in Salk Village, just 40 minutes south east of Chicago.