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Chris Fabry
Married to Andrea since 1982. We have 9 children together and none apart. Our dog's name is Tebow.
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Where We Are Now

After finding and remediating mold twice in our Colorado home, we abandoned ship in October 2008. Because of the high levels of exposure, our entire family was affected. After months of seeing different specialists for all of the problems, we came to Arizona to begin comprehensive treatment to rid our bodies of the toxic buildup. In August 2009 we moved into a larger home, four bedrooms, south of Tucson, north of Mexico. I am doing my daily radio program/ writing from that location. Thanks for praying for us. We really feel it.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009
Saturday was my first baseball game as coach. I intended for it to be my last. We only had five players and one of them is five years old. You can’t play a season with five kids, especially with vacations, sickness, etc. My intention was, after the first game of the year, to hang up my “Coach” shirt and call it a lesson learned. I am not a quitter but I am a realist.

But something happened on the way to the game. A memory sparked from long ago. I don’t know why it’s there, it just is. I was in elementary school. It was the fifth grade, or maybe fourth, or sixth, that part I can’t remember. It was the last day of school and the whole class walked down the street to a church campground, right next to the cemetery where my grandfather is buried. I can't tell you the year, it could have been anywhere from 1970-1973, but I can tell you the strongest memory of that day.

We are in the field by the picnic tables. The teachers and mothers are working with the food, keeping the flies away, making sure the kids don’t choke on hot dogs. The girls giggle and run in packs, playing tag or talking or doing whatever girls do. And I am in the field holding a plastic bat. My friends are both behind me and scattered in the field. And there is a man in work clothes on the impromptu pitcher's mound. He is holding a Wiffle ball. It is my father. He must be on evenings or midnight shift because he is there at one in the afternoon.

When a smaller child or a girl comes up to bat, he throws underhanded. When I come up to bat he puts something on it, overhanded, and I whack the ball as hard as I can and run to first, which is someone’s discarded shirt. He is laughing. We are all laughing and sweating and swatting at flies and mosquitoes. All of us want our team to win. And we all think it is the best thing in the world to have a dad playing baseball with us. My dad. It is the best memory.

For some reason, that’s what I thought about when I drove to the game Saturday. Just that image of my father standing so tall before us and tossing the ball.

We had five players for our team. The other team had 12. I walked over to the other coach and explained the situation.

He grimaced. “We only had six until we got six more last week.” He rubbed his chin. “It’s okay, we’ll have some of our guys play for you. This is all about the kids. We want them to have a good time and learn something about the game.”

This is all about the kids. He said that several times.

We were up first. Colin actually hit the ball and ran to first, just getting out by a stride or two. The next three or four batters got on base. They scored. It was wonderful.

In the bottom of the first, the bases loaded, one Red Sox player hit a screaming line drive to first. Colin caught it on the fly for the third out.

I went in to catch in the bottom of the second. Angel pitched. The umpire let us move him forward so he could get the ball over the plate.

“Coach, tell your pitcher to move back,” one of the parents from the opposing team said behind me.

“Talk to the umpire,” I said. “The pitcher is five.”

“He’s five?” she said in wonder.

Brandon was playing shortstop, his knees locked. “Bend your knees,” I called. “Get ready for the grounder, remember to catch the bunny low when it comes to you.”

He put his glove down in the dirt and waited, perfect position.

Final inning. A couple of Red Sox runners on. Colin pitching. Another line drive, this one at Alex at second base. He puts his glove up, the ball goes in with a smack, he looks at it, then looks to the dugout like he has found the missing clue in a thousand year old mystery. He can’t believe he caught it.

I looked at one of the dads. “Think we ought to try one more game?”

He smiled and nodded. “All we need are maybe four more players.”

We slapped hands with the opposing team. Good game. Good game. At the end of the line was a Red Sox player who seemed a bit bewildered. He turned and looked at me, his hair unruly and covering his eyes. It is our nature as men to keep score. To try and figure out who is better, who can spit farther, who can be the best.

“But what was the score?” he said. “Who won?”

“We all did,” I said.

And somewhere in the distance, in a place where children’s hearts are stirred, my father laughed and I heard the sound of a Wiffle ball passing.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful story
Thanks for sharing.
You and the other coach (& that umpire) understand. It is all about the kids. I'll bet memories were made that day. Keep on keeping on. <><

Glynn said...

Good game, coach. You got that one exactly right.

Nicole said...

Love this, Chris.

Barbara J. Robinson said...

Hi Chris,

I just bought Dogwood, and I'm reading it now. I'll probably do a book review when I've completed the reading. Love the title. Love dogwoods.

Chris Fabry said...

Thanks for reading Dogwood. Hope you enjoy the story. If you do write a review, it always helps to put it on or or any other online resource, especially if you liked it. I buy or don't buy books because of recommendations of other readers. Thanks for the encouragement.

Jeff said...

I went from coachin' competitve hoops for years to coachin' t-ball because "we need somebody". Most fun I ever had. At least you didn't have anybody run straight from 1st to 3rd across the pitcher's mound! You need to post a shot of you behind the plate!!!