My week started out by getting a phone call informing me that a job that I had a contract on was being given to one of my competitors because this guy decided to give a bid 20% below my cost. Sure, I could fight the deal because I had a contract, but it would be throwing good money after bad. I already had the job cheaper than I wanted to, but it was going to keep some guys busy in January and February.
Soon after that phone call came another from a crew I had headed out to Midland, seems DPS had pulled them over and the truck they were in was overweight by 4,000 pounds, only explanation was the scaffold boards had soaked up a bunch of the rain and were heavier than thought. The Cluster that happened trying to go retrieve the guys and the truck would just bore you, but let it be said that the Keystone Cops would be proud.
The week continued to go downhill from there that included a stolen truck, but today on the way home from a very emotional day at work I remembered a couple of my friends from the past that aren’t with us anymore.
Bobby Short was my son’s select baseball coach during the period when I was going through my custody battle, he was more than just a coach to Nicholas, but rather a confidant, a mentor and most of all a shoulder for my son to cry on during that turbulent times in his life. Bobby always had a smile on his face and always put the kids first. In a few days we will pass the 5th anniversary of his leaving this world, taken from us by cancer at 43 years of age leaving behind three teenage boys that have all grown in to fine young men. My son and I will take with us to our grave the day we went to go see Bobby in the hospital, physically half the man he once was and in and out of it with all the drugs he was on. Nicholas had dug through all of his drawers the night before to find his FM Jaguar jersey he wore while playing for Bobby so he could wear it to the hospital. Bobby waking up long enough for Nicholas to hug him and Bobby to tell him how much he loved my son and how proud of him he was. We returned to the hospital later that week to spend time with the family and were there as Bobby was slipping away.
I will always remember the honor of speaking at his funeral and looking out at the nearly 2,000 people in attendance and remarking how nearly every person there had been touched by Bobby through the game he so loved.
Bobby wore number 22 during High School and College, his sons wore 22 during their playing days.
When my son showed up to Stanford Baseball Camp for a very critical part of his recruiting process with a bad hamstring, he was assigned jersey number 22. I remember telling him that day that Bobby was there looking out for him, that he needed to relax and play the game the way he knew how to and that everything would be OK.
When my son went to go run his 60 Yard Dash I told him to let it fly…and he did. He ran his fastest 60 yard time of his life on that bad hamstring and when asked if he could do it again, he matched the time. Nicholas ended up with the fastest time at the camp and to this day has never been able to match his time from that day. I really do believe that Bobby was there looking after him.
During Nicholas’ time playing for Bobby we met Rich Keel and his son Josh. Nicholas and Josh became fast friends and at 12 years old they would take turns spending the weekends at each others houses during those long baseball season that lasted from February to November. The boys played every summer together from the time they were 12 until they graduated High School and went off to college together where they were roommates. Rich was like a second dad to Nicholas, helping him through the tough times of adolescence. Helping him deal with an overbearing dad at times and shuttling him back and forth to games and practices. Rich became one of the closest friends I’ve ever had, we’d talk on the phone about Football, baseball or whatever was going on in each others lives. He would always trek over to Keller to watch Nicholas play High School ball and I would do the same, heading to Lewisville. During Christmas break of the boys Freshman Year of college I got a strange phone call from a buddy of mine saying that he had heard that Rich had passed, but when I called his wife, she answered the phone as she usually did. When I asked her if everything was OK, she broke down. Rich had died of a heart attack and the firemen were still there. I headed over to his house in disbelief, and still to this day have his phone number in my cell. I pick up the phone during the World Series every year to call him…..only to realize he’s not around.
At the head of Rich’s funeral was his work truck from the City of Lewisville Water Department, on it his unit number….22.
Rich was 48 years young.
This time of year I think of both Rich and Bobby nearly every day. I miss them both more than I can express in words but I know that they are still with us. I know this because on days like today when all I see is the abyss, I look up to see both Bobby and Rich smiling their big smiles.
I was honored to have both of them as friends.