A SPECIAL to sportsfeelgoodstories.com from StatsDad’s Fran Dicari.
On June 7, 1997, my son came into this world. He instantly filled my life with meaning. The next day God spoke directly to me and filled my life with hope.
My son’s birth was a far from stress free. When my wife went into labor and my son’s head was peaking out, the doctor, who induced my wife hours before, was nowhere to be found. The nurses tried to remain calm, but I could tell that they were a bit concerned. After repeated calls to the doctor failed, one nurse called for an ER doctor as the other nurse gave my wife instructions. My son was halfway out when my wife’s doctor finally arrived for the final push.
The nurses cleaned my son, preformed the post birth Apgar tests, wrapped my son in a blanket and handed him to my wife. My son passed the Apgar. My wife and I enjoyed our son’s first couple of hours and life was good. At 11pm, a nurse came into the room and asked if we wanted to have the baby sleep in the nursery or in our room with us. We were exhausted but we didn’t want our son to spend his first night alone. The nurse took our son for a routine check up before bedtime and said she would be back quickly. The check up was far from quick. After an hour, I called down to the nurses station to remind them that we wanted our son to sleep with us.
Moments later, a big doctor came into our room and told us that our son had a serious heart defect and that he was sorry. It was the kind of sorry that lacked any glimmer of hope at all. The doctor then informed us that our son needed to be rushed to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. My wife and I sat on the side of the bed holding each other dumbfounded and sad.
A few minutes later, the transport staff wheeled my son, who was inside an incubator, into our room so my wife could say goodbye. My wife wondered if it was going to be a final goodbye. After a tough labor, my wife was in no condition to leave the hospital, so I had to follow my new born son alone. Leaving my wife when she needed me most was one of the most heart wrenching things I’ve ever done. As I was walking out the door, my wife struggled to say words I will never forget. She said, “He will never get to play baseball.” Tears filled my eyes as those words echoed in my head.
We found out that we were having a boy twenty weeks into the pregnancy at the ultrasound appointment. From that moment on, I couldn’t wait to teach my son how to play baseball, my favorite sport. I looked forward to buying him a baseball glove and I planned on making him a lefty hitter even if he were right handed. Those dreams seemed to be shattered.
At about 1 am, I left my wife’s side and walked in silence down empty hospital hallways toward the exit to the garage. I found my car and started to drive. Though tear filled eyes, I struggled to see the directional signs that would lead me out of the parking garage . I eventually found the meeting place and parked behind the ambulance that would to take my son to Children’s Hospital. The night was eerily dark and quiet. I could hear my heart beating as I sat in silence waiting for the journey to begin. The ambulance started to roll and the red lights started flash but there were no sirens. To kill the depressing silence, I reached for the radio knob and turned on the FOX, a classic radio station.
And then it happened. God talked to me through the radio and He told me everything was going to be all right. Yep, believe it or not, the song on the radio was John Fogerty’s baseball song titled “Centerfield”…
Well, beat the drum and hold the phone – the sun came out today!
We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field.
A-roundin’ third, and headed for home, it’s a brown-eyed handsome man;
Anyone can understand the way I feel.
Oh, put me in, Coach – I’m ready to play today;
Put me in, Coach – I’m ready to play today;
Look at me, I can be Centerfield…
Editor’s Note: Fran’s son went on to play baseball and several other sports. A recent quote from Fran’s StatsDad blog, “Today is the 285th day of the year and my two kids have played in 236 games and participated in 137 practices. That’s 373 youth sports events in 285 days.”
Fran Dicari is the over-scheduled father of over-scheduled athletic kids and author of the youth sports blog StatsDad.com. He’s a coach, a scorekeeper and an amateur sports photographer. He’s also an executive and partner at Barefoot Proximity.
Ready to Play: A true story about God and Baseball.
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