Jim is a literal health care champion. With November’s focus on all issues health related, the Springfield Business Journal announced Springfield’s best in multiple medical fields: doctor, administrator, nurse, technician, and therapist.
A paramedic in the CoxHealth system, Jim was chosen as top of his field.
“I found out via email. I had no idea the whole thing was happening. A co-worker texted me letting me know I had been nominated. My partner and I were both nominated at the same time.”
A new record low temperature was recorded this morning, breaking the previous record set in 1960. Playing catch with the best paramedic is quite providential, because I might need medical advice and assistance after prolonged exposure to wind chills in the teens, especially since I’ve yet to pick up a package of Hot Hands.
Jim welcomed me into his office which was full of bobbleheads, baseballs, bats, jerseys, and autographs, mostly of the Orioles and Cardinals variety.
“I was born in Baltimore. Brooks Robinson was my first favorite player. I have a Brooks jersey and a hat and baseball signed by him.”
As soon as he started playing Little League, Jim manned the hot corner and spent time on the mound, too. He moved to Missouri in 1983 and when Springfield became associated with the team from St. Louis in 2005, Jim became a fan of the Cardinals. He’s worked almost 30 games a season as part of the EMS crew at Hammons Field.
“I used to schedule my vacation around Springfield Cardinals games.”
A couple of years ago, when the manual scoreboard was first installed beyond the left field fence, Jim was one of the original operators who updated the scores of every game across MLB. I remember watching him and asking if I could climb up the steps with him. He turned me down. But at least let me in on the behind-the-scenes secrets for keeping the scoreboard current.
“I just used a smart phone.”
Jim played ball in Michigan during high school in weather similar to today.
“I remember it was snowing and I was warming up in the bullpen to come into the game. It took me a full inning to get loose, and I only survived two innings.”
During his sophomore year, he remembers the exact pitch he threw when he tore his UCL and ended his playing career.
“No Tommy John surgery for high schoolers back then.”
His 11 PM softball story of taking a Charlie Brown-like fall on the late-night dew in centerfield and cracking a rib is hilarious.
“I played two more innings. Even tried to hit. Swinging a bat was something else.”
He’s thrown out a first pitch for the Springfield Cardinals and caught a ball Adam Jones threw to him at Kauffman Stadium. And he loves his job.
“Every day is different. That’s what makes this job so much fun, no two days are the same. It’s almost impossible to answer what I’ll see over any given two weeks. Everything from ‘Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up’ to heart attacks and strokes. I’ve even helped deliver three babies — the last one was breech.”
It was cold, but at least the sun was shining. We laughed and told baseball stories as we threw the ball in the field behind Jim’s house, the same field where deer run and drive his dogs crazy.
Working in the EMS field has taught Jim one thing over and over and over again.
“Life is short. Live fully.”
Congratulations, Jim, on this wonderful honor and a job well done!