By Mike Kinney
Minister Marvin Webb “had the heart of the champion,” according to Richmond City Councilmember Nat Bates.
While on the baseball field, he played hard, played to win — a big reason he went on to play professionally. And when he moved on to become the coach at Contra Costa College, he had “a very tremendous and positive impact on the players,” Bates added.
Many in the community would argue Webb shined even brighter off the diamond.
“He always treated people with dignity and respect,” said Rev. Andre Shumake Sr., community activist and founder of the faith-based Richmond Improvement Association.
On Thursday, hundreds of community members paid tribute at a funeral for Minister Webb, who died on Saturday, Aug. 20. The services were held at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church in Richmond.
Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, who spoke at Webb’s funeral, said the well-attended homecoming was a testament to his friend’s character. Fifty-two years ago, Gioia said his father, who was Webb’s civics teacher at Kennedy High, took him to watch Webb play baseball. Gioia said his father told him Webb “was an exceptional young man who would do great things in life.”
“Today, we can look back on Marvin’s life and all agree that he used his many talents to lead a life of accomplishment and love,” Gioia said. “As I shared [Aug. 31], “Marvin‘s life was dedicated to using love to make our community a healthier, safer, more equitable and better place for everyone.”
Gioia added, “We’ll miss you Marvin, but are better for having had you here.”
Webb was born in Memphis, Tenn., on April 20, 1952, but was raised and lived most of his life in Richmond. He attended Kennedy High School where he excelled in sports, not just in baseball but also in football and basketball. He would eventually enter into the Hall of Fame for both Kennedy High and Contra Costa College.
He later played with the LA Dodgers AAA team from 1972-1978 and the Oakland A’s. He also played ball in Panama and Mexico in 1980. For two decades, he coached at Contra Costa College.
“His coaching abilities and skills had an effect on the thousands of lives he coached,” Gioia said. “He positively influenced them and prepared his players to have a successful life off the field as well.”
Webb was additionally a beloved minister for Temple Baptist Church at 1960 Carlson Blvd. in Richmond. He was an accomplished gospel performer and writer.
“He was true to his faith and true to his calling,” Shumake said. “Because of Minister Webb’s lived experiences, he understood that in order for a spiritual transformation to occur for individuals and their families, they had to have a relationship with God.”
Webb had “a remarkable ability to be available when people needed to talk; he was widely known throughout the community for being a great listener, especially people in need,” Shumake added.
Webb is also known for his service to community organizations. For decades, he was involved in helping to stop gun violence among youth and young adults and to bring peace to the streets of Richmond. He worked closely with community groups such as the Richmond Improvement Association and YA-NEEMA Healing Circle & Supportive Services in the prevention of gun violence and support to the families who lost loved ones due to gun violence.
Steve Lee, digital services manager at the Bay Area Rescue Mission, said Webb would occasionally bring his team to the Rescue Mission to volunteer during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Webb was a great believer in education. He acquired his Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities from New College in San Francisco in 1996. He then received his Master’s in Health, Physical Education and Recreation from St. Mary’s University in Moraga in 1999 and his Doctorate from the East Bay Theological Seminary in 2009.
Somehow between his ministry, coaching and community service, he found time to write gospel songs such as “Time For Love,” “We Have Got To Have Love,” and “Nobody.”
Antwon Cloird, a community activist and associate minister at Independent Community Church in Richmond, said Webb’s rich local experiences were reflected in his music.
“He truly loved Richmond and all of the people who reside here,” Cloird said. “He loved to sing about Richmond being a loving and caring community. He made it known in his songs that God was real and he was in the saving souls business.”