I had planned to watch Clay (Day #64) at today’s Drury game at US Ballpark in Ozark. I did not, however, anticipate 25-mph winds and temperatures in the upper 30s.
Wearing layer upon layer, I made it to the game and cheered for Clay during each at bat and on his one play in the outfield, though I’m not sure he recognized me. In the bottom of the 7th inning, with the game tied at 2 and one runner on, Clay scorched a double down the right field line, putting two runners on in scoring position. A single followed by a balk and Drury was up 4 – 2, going on to secure the W, 7 – 4.
In the second inning or so, Justin texted me, confirming today’s game of catch. He lives only a few miles from US Ballpark and did an excellent job texting directions. (The only downside of being a flip phone user is no GPS.)
By the time I made it to Justin’s house, my cheeks were wind-chapped and my joints were stiff. It took me about 20 minutes to actually warm up as we were interrupted multiple times by the neighbor’s dog, who barked far too loud and stood far too close for my comfort. I even threw a ball for him to chase once, but the dog ignored it. After visiting with the neighbor, he brought over an Easton bat as a peace offering.
“I don’t use it anymore,” he said. “Maybe you could have some fun with it.”
The neighbor took the dog home and Justin and I were better able to spread out for catch-playing.
When his dream of playing shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals didn’t come true, Justin continued pursing the life in the sports industry. He earned a degree in Sports Management from MSU and used it, working in 2005 for the Springfield Cardinals and 2006 – 2008 for the Tacoma Rainiers. He’s good friends with Dan, the new GM for the Springfield Cardinals, as they started working at Hammons Field together. He is now slowly working toward a Master’s degree in Project Management.
I was connected to Justin through mutual friend Emily.
“We’re in a group chat and she said that she had a friend who was trying to play catch. Who doesn’t like catch?”
Justin also told me the tale of when Emily helped him repair the inflatable rooftop snowman one Christmas. One of my favorite Emily stories is when she tracked down the bobblehead of Frank White in a KC Monarchs uniform at a Hy-Vee store in KC and delivered it to me in Springfield.
He asked how Catch 365 started and I shared the story of inspired by daughters and invitations I’ve received and who in the world knows what’s going to happen by year’s end.
“I just hope my arm survives.”
“You’re almost a third of the way finished,” he said.
Catch 365 is in the bottom of the 3rd inning. Wonder what the odds are of this game going into extra innings?