For more than 25 years, Bob was my parents’ neighbor. He was my neighbor, too, during my high school years, when Dad and I played catch in the backyard and wild throws hit the wood fence or storage shed that is no longer in existence. Multiple tree swings hung in Neighbor Bob’s backyard. Both Kaylea and Sophie tested the swings when we visited Springfield on trips from KC. Since my family has moved back to Springfield, Neighbor Bob has joined our families on multiple occasions for dinner and a baseball game.
During the off season, a movie is substituted for a baseball game. Whatever it takes to make it to Spring Training.
Neighbor Bob was with us when the Royals played the Blue Jays in the 6th game of the 2015 ALCS. When Lorenzo Cain scored on Eric Hosmer’s hit to right field, Bob yelled, “Look at that man run!”
On All Saints Day of 2015, after a dinner of chicken parmesan, Bob cheered the KC team in the 5th game of the World Series. When the Mets scored their second run in the 6th inning, Bob said, “We’re just losing. We haven’t lost yet.”
Quite the prophecy.
After the 12th inning rally and the Wade Davis strikeout to end the season, Dad, Bob, and I high-fived and cheered.
“What a game! That was sure a lot of fun!” Bob exclaimed.
Bob is again joining my family for dinner and a viewing of Game 4. I can’t imagine either team having much left in their tank after last night’s 18-inning affair, a game which Seth (Day #296) attended in person.
“I only made it to the 14th inning last night,” Bob confessed.
I survived 16 innings before succumbing to slumber’s call.
Bob laughed when I asked the last time he played catch.
“Probably at some point back in high school.”
He graduated from Willow Springs High School in 1946 and moved to Springfield shortly after to attend the newly renamed Southwest Missouri State College. Bob turned 90 back in July, which makes for my second game of catch with a nonagenarian in one week.
I offered Bob his choice of glove. Unlike most partners who lean toward the brand new Wilson already promised to Isaiah, Bob was most comfortable with the five-fingered, laceless Wilson mitt. In the backyard, in the shade, under a leafless tree as the sun set, neighbor Bob and I laughed.
Neighbor Bob now lives in a new neighborhood, moving two years ago. His new neighbors are some of the luckiest people in Springfield.