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Hudson moved by visit to historic bridge

Hudson moved by visit to historic bridge

TUCSON, Ariz. -- One of Orlando Hudson's favorite things to do in the offseason is to go hunting and fishing.

"I love it," he said recently. "I love being outside in the fresh air."

This past winter, Hudson, his father, Marcus, and Marcus' best friend, Johnny Pierce, traveled from their homes in South Carolina to go hunting in Alabama.

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"It was beautiful," Hudson said. "I wish we'd see that more where I'm from in South Carolina, more black kids enjoying nature rather than on the street or playing video games. In Alabama, it's all about hunting."

While they were hunting, Pierce, a veteran of 25 years in the armed forces, said they weren't far from the city of Selma. When the words left Pierce's mouth, Hudson knew where the trip was headed next.

"As soon as he mentioned Selma, I said, 'I have to walk on that bridge,'" Hudson said.

That bridge is the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which became a symbol of the civil-rights movement on March 7, 1965. That was the day, which is commonly referred to as "Bloody Sunday," when voters' rights marchers, led by Martin Luther King Jr., were violently confronted by law enforcement and prevented from crossing the bridge.

Two weeks following the confrontation, King led an estimated 3,200 people across the bridge on the way to Montgomery, Ala. Less than five months later, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enacted.

"I went across the bridge," Hudson said. "The same place that Martin Luther King had all those thousands of people behind him."

Hudson was still wearing his hunting gear as he stood on the bridge and soaked up the history.

"I know there were people driving by thinking, 'Who is that crazy guy in a hunting outfit?' but I didn't care," Hudson said. "They have a marker where [King] made his speech. I saw it. I saw it all. I stood on that bridge and looked at everything. It was great. I was trying to put myself in his shoes because there's still so much racism in the South. I don't understand how the man did it. He was strong-willed. If it's still rough now, I can only imagine what it was like then."

Hudson has become known around baseball for his outgoing, happy personality and talkative nature, but scratch a little below that surface and you'll find a man with a strong sense of history.

"I know it was very important to him to see that bridge," said third baseman Chad Tracy, one of Hudson's closest friends on the team. "He has a serious side to him that people don't really see."

Whenever he needs a little boost or a dose of inspiration, Hudson will listen to one of King's speeches and instantly feel a difference.

"The strongest voice in history," Hudson said of King. "I don't care if he was black or white, he was just an amazing man."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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