The Williamsport Baseball Story

For those who are local to the Tri-State area, it is likely that most of you know the events surrounding Williamsport High School and most specifically the baseball team. For those of you beyond this area, let me review the main points.

The annual high school Prom was held on May 5th, and just after the event was over, a senior boy and girl were killed instantly in a tragic car accident. Both were popular kids and among the best athletes in the school – the boy being the best player on the baseball team.

The regular season for the team had ended that week with a record of 9-9.  They were outscored in their final three games 31-3. After the accident, the team did not even practice for a week, but still won their first playoff game 22-0 with a no-hitter. Granted, the other team was not very good … but the story is just beginning…

The team kept winning games … all the way to the state championship finals. They held a 1-0 lead throughout most of the contest against an opponent with a record of 19-4.  But the opposition scored late in the game to send it into extra innings. In the bottom of the 9th (the 2nd extra inning), the Williamsport boys won the game on a suicide squeeze bunt!  If you’re not a baseball fan, this is a very rare and difficult maneuver to pull off and is a “do or die” strategy.

I have said to many that this is the stuff of which books are written. The tragedy, emotion, drama, etc… just an amazing story.

It has been an emotional several weeks at the school. I went in on that first day to just hang out and talk with kids – got to see and say something to most of my runners. I also spoke to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes group that week. And last night was the annual all-sport banquet – an emotional affair – but perhaps an event that put about as good a moment of closure upon the matter as could be made. Their coach is a really good young guy named David Warrenfeltz … who graduated from the school in Aaron’s class. He was also the high school catcher and close friend for California Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart – a fellow grad of that WHS glass of 2004 – who was killed by a drunk driver in 2009.

It is a painful awakening to teenagers to learn that not everyone is assured that they are going to get to play the whole game. The sad truth is that some don’t get out of the first quarter. The apparent unfairness of this drives some to reject God, though, the appropriate response is to run to Him, for there is no hope elsewhere.

Memorial Day 2012

Nothing extra special here … just that I have not posted anything in a week and am feeling bad about that. I’ve got a bunch of stuff in the other blogs – especially – as there are a lot of 150th anniversary happenings right now. And I’ve continued to have more than a few Orioles opinions these days, as they are looking a bit more like themselves – having lost 6 of the last 8 games.

Not that these next three items tie together in any way other than I took pictures of each, here are some activities from today. <There are 3 events and 3 pictures>

We had an absolutely amazing storm on Sunday night – which cancelled our outdoor church movie event (and likely made the cranky neighbor across the cornfields happy). A wall of clouds moved in that was as equally impressive as anything I ever saw happen in Texas. I wish I had taken pictures, but I was too busy worrying about my trees blowing down. The wind effect (65 mph) upon even my largest trees looked much like the hurricane pictures you see of trees bent almost 90 degrees. I thought we got away with none coming down, but today I saw that a 60-70 foot tree on my south property line blew over into the neighbor’s yard. (Possession is 90% of the law they say, right?)  This was a grand old tree – so large that in our neighborhood covenant it is stipulated that the trees on the property lines cannot be cut down. This was one of them. Here is a picture:

I thought that for sure I would be called to do a tour group at Antietam today, but that never happened. I did go over there however to walk along on a Ranger-led talk through the cemetery – which was very good. Even though at Tri-State this summer we are not highlighting the summer fellowship activities as in the past, since my Antietam events have been very popular, I’ll plan to do one of them toward the end of the summer. And I’m thinking of doing something like I saw today.

Since last summer, we have had a flock of chickens – we have 20 hens and 2 roosters. Caleb and I bought what is called a still air incubator and have had a batch of eggs in it for the past three weeks. The time has come for them to start hatching, and in fact, as I write this, the first one is out of the shell. It is quite an impressive thing – even this birth of a simple chicken is amazing. We’ve been hearing them chirping in the eggs for the past 36 hours. Unless you’ve experienced a clutch of eggs hatching, you will not likely be able to relate to how incredibly noisy this process is. They chirp and chirp – very loud!  And, as they’re trying to extricate themselves from their prison, the eggs go rolling loudly around the incubator on a metal mesh platform. The last time we did this was over 20 years ago when the older three boys were little, and I had the device in my bedroom – wanting to control curious little hands from doing the wrong thing. This time, remembering the past, I have the setup in a remote corner of the downstairs. And, all this noise is driving the dog crazy. Joules does not know what to make of this, and her curiosity is on high alert. Anyhow, let me know if you need some chickens.

What a Sweet Job!

What a Sweet Job!

As my local TSF friends know, I spoke at another church yesterday in Montgomery County. It is an Evangelical Free Church where there has been a recent pastoral departure. I’ve met some of these nice people in the past, and it was good to become reacquainted with them.

My host for lunch yesterday was one of the elders whom I had not met before, and he has the most sweet job on earth – in my humble opinion. Actually, he now leads a company where there are 80 people with the sweetest jobs on earth. It is a group that does historical research and writing for a variety of clients. Some of their research has been related to litigation situations – discerning the history of something to establish facts for either a prosecution or defense. Other clients have included the National Park Service – digging through historical materials. They have worked as well for corporations – who pay to see their firm’s history recorded and published.

So here is a guy who is one of the few people I’ve ever met who understands the salubrious experience of spending the day in the bowels of a library with white gloves while handling and digging through musty century-old documents that no human has looked at in years! So awesome! And then to discover some fact that is not known or something that overturns the generally accepted viewpoint on a particular subject – it is like being a detective without getting shot at!

This would be so much fun! You don’t think so?? Huh!  You’re boring!

The Crazy New Family

My previous post about camping set a new record for responses and blog hits – didn’t see that one coming. But thanks everyone for your kind words – most of them anyhow!

The anniversary occasion has caused me to think back over some of the early years when I knew Diana and her family. I guess I knew that I was likely in for a change from my childhood household, but I never imagined how different it would be. Having been adopted by grandparents and growing up as essentially an only child with older parents, many of the details of my life were significantly different than most kids – both positively and negatively.

Since my dad was a farmer in his youth, our family diet was a rather constant meat, potato, and vegetable at each dinner. It was very American and pretty much never ventured into anything more ethnic than Pennsylvania Dutch. I was well into my teenage years before I ever ate pizza, and when I went to college and saw lasagna as a menu choice, I had to ask others what it was! Diana’s family really did not eat that many unusual things – probably more items from a German heritage than I was used to – but any place beyond my home was going to be exotic by comparison.

Probably the biggest change was being exposed to a new family that was a do-it-yourself clan. It was often economics that drove them toward this, though there were talents and generational experiences behind it as well. My father always believed that there was a professional for whatever you needed done. You hired electricians, plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, etc. and paid them for the things you needed accomplished. My father was always annoyed also when “lay people” preached or taught in the church service, because that is what the pastors went to seminary to learn how to do … not to mention they were being paid to do it! So it was a case of “he who represents himself in court has a fool for a lawyer” on a grand scale!

But I was completely unprepared for the scale of do-it-yourself-ism that went on in Diana’s house. I was amazed to find out that her school teacher father had actually constructed the living room addition onto their home as well as refurbishing major sections of the home. He even did this really bizarre mechanical thing I’d never seen done – he changed his own oil and filters in their cars! I wasn’t even sure it was legal to do things like this all by yourself.

I quietly observed all these things and said very little … that is, until the Texas trip for the Christmas of 1976. This was the winter before Diana and I were married, although her older sister was married and had moved with her husband and baby to Dallas, Texas. There was some thought in my mind at that time that I might attend Dallas Theological after my college graduation in 1978 – still over two years away (although in those days, in order to get into Dallas Seminary, one had to apply 15-18 months in advance). So I was invited to travel there with the family over the holidays.

There was much family excitement because Diana’s older sister and husband had just bought a new home (new to them) – a rather sizeable ranch house. It was plenty nice enough but was not really new. The home would be enhanced by some remodeling, and I remember sitting in the kitchen listening to this family discuss what I thought were outlandishly crazy ideas. They glibly threw around ideas about knocking out walls here and there to open the floor plan, etc.  And I finally said, “What is wrong with you people? You can’t just knock down walls whenever you want to. You are all crazy. This house will fall down!”  They tried to tell me that it was no big deal – ranting on and on about “non load-bearing walls” or something of that sort.

I believe it was then that I began to get this sinking feeling that Bauder women (Diana’s family name – of four daughters, no sons) believed that the men in their world could and should be able to accomplish practically whatever creative endeavor their minds envisioned. After all, Dad could do it! And he could. He had to! Somehow he’d go off, maybe confer with his building brothers and come back and make it happen.

Famous Bauder women sorts of phrases:

“We could JUST knock out this wall and …”

“We can JUST move this family room over there …”

“That fireplace should really be on the other side of the room …”

“So we’ll put the sink where the stove is, move the stove to where the fridge is, and build in the fridge as part of the new cabinets …”

“Just take the roof off that part of the house and we can put two new bedrooms there…”

Wedding Anniversary and Camping Trips

Yesterday – the 14th – was a 35th anniversary for Diana and me. We were married soon after birth.

Whenever couples unite together, there is a coming together also of two family systems with varied ways of living life. I can see this is something of a challenge for my boys as they connect with the young ladies in their world. We’ve noticed a number of times that our family way of living and parenting has oft been vastly different than some of the girl-dominated families of their relationships.

And my family background was immediately very noticeably different from Diana’s!!  I may write a series of posts about this – which I think will be humorous especially for some of Diana’s relatives who read everything I write!  Just remember – I love you guys, no matter what I say over the next week!

Stimulating my thought to do this was the men’s retreat this past weekend – which was a camping event complete with snake visitations! (see previous blog post)

My family did not go camping. We had the good sense to take a vacation where you go somewhere nice and sleep in a comfortable place like human beings in the modern age! Diana’s family went camping – tent camping – the whole 9.99 yards! In fact, they loved it so much that one time they did it for an entire summer and went all over the entire USA.

So, when I met Diana, she was intent that I should learn this very wonderful family activity that had such warm and romantic memories for her. Being the compliant fellow that I am with such a benevolent heart to please, I did it. We even went camping for 10 of the 17 nights we took on our honeymoon trip to Florida and the southeast. We did a fair amount of camping trips with the boys when they were little, and even a couple of times since living here in Maryland. There was one particularly good trip to Acadia about a decade ago. But honestly, most of them were washouts – I mean that very literally – involving copious amounts of water falling from the sky. One time on Ocracoke Island, the people in the tent next to us were literally able to canoe around their campsite.

Well, back in 2006 when I had a two-month sabbatical, we included some camping nights in Yellowstone and the Mountain West as part of our trip to the National EFCA Convention in Denver. One evening in Yellowstone – in JUNE – it was simply too cold to sleep. There was frost on the inside walls of the tent. About 3:00 in the morning I looked at Diana in the dark and said, “Diana, I’m going to confess something to you that I’ve hidden from you for all these 29 years we’ve been married. I HATE CAMPING; I’VE ALWAYS HATED CAMPING; I only ever did it because I love you. But this is the end. I will never go camping again.”

And I haven’t … not for Diana … not for the men of the church. “Read my lips,” said George Bush 41 … “not gonna do it … wouldn’t be prudent.”

The Evidence of Things Unseen

When we have baptism services each year at the Horst Cabin, people ask me why I’m standing in the water looking around like I’m afraid I’m going to see something. The men’s retreat was held there this weekend, and one of the guys took this picture:

So, I think my fears are entirely reasonable … though honestly, with 150+ people there each August, I’m sure this guy and his relatives take a quick vacation.

Prayers for Folks in the Community

Local people to the Hagerstown / Williamsport area are all aware of the tragic events of the death of two seniors in a car crash just after the annual WHS Prom Saturday night.

It was about 12:30 a.m. when Diana and I drove to pick up Caleb at the home of his girlfriend – since after midnight he is not able to drive on his provisional license. They had been to the Prom as well.

As we drove past the intersection of the road upon which the accident occurred (not far from Caleb’s girlfriend’s house), it was blocked off by emergency personnel. My mind went to the worst – what did indeed happen – and I recall either thinking or saying, “I hope there’s a fire down that road and not an accident with one of our high school kids.”

The teens are warned consistently about the dangers of this particular night. And that drumbeat of caution makes the actuality of the tragedy more surreal. Preliminary reports indicate that speed on a dangerously twisting road was the likely factor. Though everyone imagines substance involvement, there is no evidence or reason to believe that.

These were nice kids. I did not know the young man beyond name – knowing that he was a highly acclaimed baseball player in our school and county. I did know the young lady casually. She was a star volleyball player, and as such, during the Fall sports season would be in daily close proximity to my teams I coach. This was an extraordinarily beautiful girl with a great smile and kind personality.

As I write this on Sunday night, I’ve been numb about this all day – as I found out about it just minutes before the service at church this morning. I don’t even remember much about the worship set – it was a fog.

I grieve for these families and the entire Williamsport community, especially the great kids of the high school. Tragic events involving the death of classmates fall hard upon teenagers. I imagine that Monday will be a difficult day at WHS.

Our lives are a vapor – even those that get to live a long range of years. Psalm 90 talks about the relative span of a person’s life, and the Psalm comments that even at its longest, life is very short in comparison to God’s eternality.