It is good to dig deep roots in a community.
To be shaped and formed by the seasonal rhythms of a particular area and the people in it.
To have informed opinions of the best places for Springfield Cashew Chicken and donuts and pizza.
To know the side streets and all the different ways to get to the nearest library and cheapest Dr Pepper. (It’s “free” in my parents’ garage.)
Whenever unexpected problems arise, the connections made and relationships developed over time help to greatly reduce the stress factor.
Jamie and I have not had the best of vehicular luck. In 21 years of marriage, we’ve owned 14 or 15 — maybe 16? — different cars. This morning, driving my daughters to school, multiple red lights flashed on my dashboard. This beloved and bumped-up van has been, by far, our best vehicle. With only 180,000 miles on it, I want to keep it running for as long as possible. When the red lights flashed, I called Rick at All-Pro Automotive. Rick knows me and my ridiculous car history.
“Bring it in. We’ll take care of you.”
I don’t have to worry about my cars when they are in Rick’s hands.
I drove to All-Pro, just across the street from the batting cages which weren’t yet open, and Mom and Dad were there.
“We’re getting an oil change. Need a ride?”
I grabbed gloves, baseballs, and my security-blanket computer backpack out of my van. Mom and Dad drove me to Jamie’s school so I could steal her car for the day. Only when I got in Jamie’s car did I realize I forgot my sunglasses. I then drove back across town to meet Matt.
Matt is the President and CEO of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. It’s only been a few days since his last game of catch. “My son, Alex, plays on a team. We went to the doubleheader at Hammons Field on Saturday and tossed a ball on Sunday.”
Matt’s job is to advocate for a business-friendly environment in and around Springfield.
“Every day with the Chamber is different, and I really like that. This is a great community and there are unlimited opportunities for both entrepreneurs and existing businesses to grow. The people of Springfield are quite special. Their attitude and approach to life exemplify the best about life in the Midwest.”
I agreed completely.
Of course, Matt is a Cardinals fan. His favorite current player is Adam Wainwright. “He has a passion for investing in others, and that’s a mark of a real leader. He has organized his professional and personal life in such a way as to make a real difference.”
Wainwright’s non-profit organization, Big League Impact, has helped provide clean water, food for the hungry, and help the poor and needy around the world.
Matt and I walked out to the back lawn of the Chamber of Commerce for mid-morning catch, which I think should be implemented in businesses across Springfield. I did wish I had my sunglasses, but at least I had a great view of Hammons Field. As we talked, with the strong breeze blowing in my face, I worked on my knuckleball. Two were actually passing. Matt threw beautiful sliders and curves in return. Uncle Charlie would have been proud.
After catch, Matt escorted me to his office. He picked up a baseball and tossed it my way.
On it were written the words, “I know I won’t strike out with you as my dad.”
“It was a gift from Alex.”
Immediately, I was reminded of the ball Sophie gave me for Christmas that sits in my Royals room.
Baseball truly does bring people together.