It felt necessary to play catch with a Royals friend today.
Today is the one-year anniversary of the death of Yordano Ventura.
We were in church when Josh (Day #16) told me the news about Yordano’s accident during the greeting time. I didn’t know how to reply. After he said something, I received several texts from baseball-loving friends about the passing of the young pitcher. My daughter showed me the update from MLB.com on her phone when she sat down from playing violin. For the remainder of the service, I mourned the loss of a friend I had never met face to face.
What a fantastic yet frail gift Life is.
Today’s game of catch was with Cory. I first connected with Cory when we were both youth ministers and my mom taught Sunday school to his twin boys. Over the years, Cory has offered thoughtful and timely advice helping me navigate life in ministry. Cory is excellent at processing life’s big questions.
“The game lives on,” Cory said today.
His words reminded me of the quote at the end of Field of Dreams, “But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game; it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again.”
Another cold front whipped through Springfield and kept today’s game quite short. Gusts more than 30 mph dropped the wind chill below freezing once again. Thanks to the wind, however, my knuckleball actually danced. Or maybe it was just so slow the wind blew it sideways.
I wrote a poem last year as a tribute to Yordano.
He threw fire.
Scribbling Dios on the mound
carrying the heavy initials
of friends on his cap
he toed the rubber,
a chip on each shoulder
and a fearless childlike heart —
Hit this if you can.
I dare you.
Every fastball thrown with
Every curve flipped with
Every follow through,
kicking in defiance at the hitter.
He was carried home
in a whirlwind
leaving behind empty questions
for teammates and fans
His challenge the same to all:
play without fear,
play with fire,
and always with a smile.
The game lives on.
Thanks for your stories in the game, Ace.