Vicarious Victory

Monday July 25th, 2011 – Palatine, IL

I’ve got all kinds of inconveniences with my car to deal with, but I’m not complaining a bit. A month ago I was laid up in a hospital bed, not knowing whether I’d come out a boy, girl or something in between. Knowing my manhood was saved puts me in tip top spirits.

Now, it’s back to the real world. What I thought was a transmission problem turned out to be a bad wheel bearing. It cost me $250 instead of $2500, so that was a break I needed right about now. The battery was also on it’s last legs, so that set me back another $97. It could have been a lot worse, so I’m going to say thanks and move on to the next chapter.

Between running around all day I was able to share a wonderful moment with my friend Jim McHugh. Jim has been an exceptional friend for years, especially during this patch of bumpy road I’ve been going through. He’s been nothing but supportive, and calls often to see if I’m ok. Many others have done that too, and it’s given me strength to keep going.

Jim and I are both big sports fans, and his son Connor plays American Legion baseball. I’ve known Connor for years, and he’s a hard working super sharp kid. Jim invited me to see the championship game this afternoon in Palatine, IL. I knew it was a big deal to both Jim and Connor, so I went to show support for all the times they’ve both shown it to me.

I like baseball, so it was no problem. Jim’s eyes lit up as he saw me walk up to the field, and I knew I made the right choice. He was glad to see me, as I was glad to see him all the times he showed up to get me from the airport when I returned from my cruise ship gigs.

The game was well played, and very exciting. From a baseball standpoint alone I wasn’t sorry I went. Connor made a nice catch in the outfield and hit the ball sharply his first two times at bat, but right at someone. I could see Jim’s frustration, but I was just happy to get a chance to be there. My old man never came to see me play baseball, or do anything else.

The game was tied 2-2 going into the bottom of the 9th inning. Fate had Connor coming up to bat with two outs and two men on base. It was the ideal situation to be the hero, and have that special bonding moment between father and son. I sure didn’t want to inflict my  horrendous luck anywhere near that moment, so I walked away from Jim as a courtesy.

The situation got tense as the count went to full, and I was hoping with all my heart that Connor would get any kind of a hit and have a lasting memory. On the next pitch, the left handed batting Connor launched a rocket over the third baseman’s head and the fans went crazy. I was cheering wildly, and I could see Jim brushing a tear away. What a moment.

I got a high five from him that felt like it broke my wrist, and then he put a bear hug on me that would have made Hulk Hogan proud. Tears were flowing and I didn’t blame him, but then he told me this would have been his father’s birthday and how special it was and I started crying myself. The roots of a family tree are thick, especially to those of us who never had a chance to experience it. I can’t be any happier for Connor, Jim and Jim’s dad.


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