Why am I wearing a Cardinals jersey to work today? I’d say it’s because the obituary asked me to do so, but in actuality it specified a Red Sox jersey.
So here’s the backstory. We were pretty well set in terms of players when one of the guys brought an extra to the game back in May, 2014. I was manager and player on the Northborough Cardinals of the Metrowest Adult Baseball league, where I ended up spending 12 total years. I’m currently in semi-retirement. Anyhow, the guy he brought said he used to play baseball and wanted to join the team. I told him we were pretty set in terms of players, but let him play that day anyway.
He played first base and pitched. Except, he hadn’t pitched in a while, which became evident in his performance. He swung a good bat, but we were log jammed a 1st with 3 players already, and didn’t need another. So, though I felt kind of bad, I knew there was a need for players on the A’s, so I referred him to them. I ended up seeing him later that season when we played the A’s.
It was just a blip in time and one of many tough managerial decisions. Except 3 years later I found out he was diagnosed with ALS. That Fall, specifically November of 2017, I participated in a fundraiser at the softball fields where he was league commissioner for 15 years. Pretty much that same week, he was elected as a Selectman in his town.
I got periodic updates from my former teammate and good friend. It had been a while since the last one, which I remember included the fact that his motor control and speech were suffering.
The latest came this past weekend when he told me he’d passed away. It seemed to happens so fast, and it was a viscious punch in the gut. Of course, the impact on me was literally nothing compared to the pain of everyone in his life.
For 12 years I tried desperately to win a championship with the Cardinals. We perennially made it to the playoffs, only to eventually lose before the Finals. Back in September, my now former team finally made it to the Finals and…we won the championship! I say “we” because I was there and felt the same joy they felt, with only a tinge of regret. The guy who brought his friend to the game that day is the one who knocked in the run to win the championship. We took pictures afterwards, and even out of uniform I was still a Cardinal.
You must see where I’m going with this. If “once a Cardinal, always a Cardinal” applies to me with my 12 years, it also applies to the guy who played just one game. He had been a coach to his kids, commissioner to a softball league, Selectman to a town, and a Cardinal’s player if only for a day.
Rest in peace, Brian.