My Advice? Swing Away While the Sun Still Shines

Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby once said, “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”

And here’s the rest.

  1. Brady

    Thanks, Eyeguy. Very touching. Hope to meet the young man on the other side of the corn field.

  2. Mike the Eyeguy

    When you get there, Brady, look for a red-headed guy wearing little round glasses way too low on his nose and an Atlanta Braves uniform.

    I wrote this before I read or watched “The Last Lecture,” but I guess it all sorta fits together.

  3. mmlace

    Wonderful post, Dr. Eyeguy!

    I LOVE reading your newspaper articles, thanks for sharing them w/us non-Huntsvillians!

    (One of my new friends at church has a fiance who lives down that way, and she will be moving to Huntsville when they get married next year.)

  4. Mike the Eyeguy

    You’re welcome. Consider yourself an honorary Huntsvillian.

    I think your friend will be pleased with what we have to offer here. If not at first, then later, since it tends to grown on you.

  5. Mike the Eyeguy

    The link to the column will eventually stop working, so here is the column in its entirety:

    Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby once said, “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”

    Well, it’s May, and all across the Tennessee Valley, players of all shapes and sizes – some of them smaller than the bats they’ll attempt to swing – are heeding the umpire’s call to “Play ball!”

    Somewhere, Rogers Hornsby is smiling.

    We’re smiling too, although our family’s Little League days are long over. We filed those diamond memories away but replay them every now and then like a SportsCenter highlight reel. Da-da-duh! Da-da-duh!

    We remember the many hours spent with friends and neighbors at Fern Gully Park, watching our children learn the great American pastime and trying to create a little bit of common good in an unpredictable, topsy-turvy world. There were hits, catches, strikeouts and dropped balls, most of them lost in the sun which sets low and harsh over Redstone Arsenal on a late spring evening.

    And who can forget those hot dogs (burp!)? For several years, my wife managed the concession stand at “The Gully” and cooked dinner for several hundred people each evening. I developed quite a taste for those little gastronomical gems, the more mustard and relish, the better.

    Humphrey Bogart once said, “A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz.”

    Bogie, you’re preaching to the choir.

    Remember that movie “Field of Dreams”? Well, it’s true. I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes.

    Ten years ago this month in Roanoke, Va., a red-headed 10-year-old boy named Andrew stepped to the plate with two on and two out. He was our nephew, and he was born with hydrocephalus.

    Andrew had endured much, but he had taken the hand that was dealt him and played it for all it was worth. He loved his mom, pizza and the Atlanta Braves – and not necessarily in that order.

    He had already struck out twice that night, so when he took one called strike and then swung and missed for another, the opposing team began to relax. The shortstop stooped over and started to draw little circles in the dirt, and the center fielder reach down to pick a dandelion.

    But their coach saw something. I’m not sure exactly what it was. Maybe it was the glint of steely determination in Andrew’s eyes. Maybe it was the way he dug in a little deeper and guarded the plate, just like his hero Chipper Jones.

    Whatever it was, it was enough for him to suddenly shout to his team, “Hey, look alive out there! This guy’s ready. He’s gonna do something!”

    And in that moment before the air was filled with the crack of Andrew’s bat, all of us who stood by that field dared to dream.

    By the time the dandelion-picking center fielder returned the ball to the circle-drawing shortstop, Andrew had long since rounded third and was headed for home. He crossed over standing up.

    I’ll never forget the look of pure joy on that boy’s face. And I’ll never forget the sight of my oldest son, who was sitting on the bench with Andrew’s team, screaming “Run, Andrew, run!” and then hugging and high-fiving his cousin afterwards.

    You know what? It only takes one of those Roy Hobbs moments to fill up the life of a little boy. You carry a memory like that with you until the day you die.

    Seven months later, Andrew succumbed to complications of the hydrocephalus and was gone. Hundreds convened on New Year’s Day 1999 and mourned his death. But we celebrated that home run and the many other great feats of his meteoric life.

    I’ve heard some call baseball a great metaphor. I say it is a great teacher too.

    This is what it has taught me: That our days are short, and while the sun is still shining, we must all step to the plate, be ready to “do something” and like Andrew – swing away.

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