THE BASEBALL BAT
I assume that growing up with Lyle instilled in me a sense of guilt. (I didn’t get this disease – he did). But it also made me very protective of my little brother. You see, he was a wonderful kid. He was bright, witty, polite and very well-liked by everyone.
One spring day, me and a few friends were playing baseball in our back yard. I was at bat and Lyle was nearby watching us. As I swung the bat, Lyle walked into its path and hit him in the neck. He went down and I took off running. I was scared to death that I had killed him. In fact, I was sure that I had. My friends ran into the house to tell my parents while Lyle laid on the ground, not moving. I didn’t see any of this because I disappeared into the neighborhood. I was devastated and thought the worst.
As it turned out, my parents took Lyle to the emergency room and treated him and brought him home that same day. He was okay. After about 6 hours, I finally came home to find everyone there, along with Lyle. I was relieved and my parents tried to assure me that it was an accident and to be careful in the future. But I still felt tremendous guilt over the accident, and I will never forget the God-awful dread that I had potentially caused him a very serious injury or death.
It was January 19, 1957. I was 10 ½ years old. Carol and her friend, Linda, Lyle and I had gone to the Huron Theater to see ‘The Three Stooges’ and a fire broke out. The theater was huge with two aisles and packed with 600 kids. While the 3 stooges were running around in a castle, somebody yelled ‘FIRE’! The curtain on the right-hand side of the stage went up in flames.
I guess my first thought was the fact that Lyle was on crutches and sitting about 10 rows ahead of me. And I needed to help get him out. I crawled over seats to get to him to carry him out. Linda and I lifted Lyle above the other kids while Carol carried his crutches. Despite the mass confusion, screaming and crazy chaos, we made it out safely. We went across the street to the donut shop where Carol called our parents to come and get us. Dad found our coats piled up outside of the theater.
There was an article in the newspaper where they mentioned my name so on Monday, my teacher asked me to stand to be recognized for an act of bravery. In all honesty, in my mind I did what any good brother would have done.
MY LOVE OF SPORTS
For those who know me, I have a passion for sports! This addiction probably started for me with I was 3 or 4 years old. No doubt it was because my father was a coach and he encouraged me and gave me opportunities to play. Growing up, all my buddies had similar interests in sports too, including the Big 4 – Football, Basketball, Track and Baseball. Even though I wasn’t very big (in fact, I was quite small), I began to excel with speed and quickness. I enjoyed nothing more than a pick-up game of basketball or football. I mean, we played sports 8-10 hours/day in the summer!
In high school, I started in football and basketball in both my Junior and Senior years. The best coach I ever had was my dad. He pushed me hard to give it my best and to be competitive. His greatest praise was when he said, “He’s a hell of a competitor”. I had many shining moments and several not so good ones, too.
I’ve continued my love for sports throughout my life even though I’m pretty much a spectator now!