Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Teaming Up with Headbands of Hope

Written by Nicole Johnson, Wife to Elliot Johnson

Last fall, I started running in races, and I started out with the Get Heeled 5k in Chapel Hill, NC.  Before the run, I came across this table with a ton of glittery headbands.  They looked like this:

So cute huh?  I stopped over at the table and happened to meet the CEO of the company, Jessica.  She is the sweetest thing, and she proceeded to explain to me that they were Headbands of Hope.  For each headband her company sells, a headband is donated to a little girl with cancer.  How awesome is that?!  

I checked out her website, and I really felt moved to become a part of this awesome organization.  I talked with Jessica more, and told her I wanted to help how I could, and since Elliot works in baseball, I could drop off headbands with kids where he was playing.  

Through my time planning a hospital visit here in Kansas City, I got to know Jessica and what she stood for, which only further committed me to this organization.  She has a background working with the Make a Wish foundation, and has wanted to be an entrepreneur since she was a kid.  She loves being able to do something for the greater good of human kind, and I just love her drive.  

In July, I got to set up a visit to the University of Kansas Hospital Cancer Center, and meet some of the great kids that were there receiving treatment.  Some of the Royals wives came along to show their support, and the team even let us bring Sluggerrr along to entertain the kids and hand out Royals hats.  Here are a couple pictures from our visits with some of the kids.  

It was beyond amazing to get to brighten the day of the kids at the center, and so fun to talk to them about their weekend plans and favorite colors.  Getting to help them take a break from their day didn't just bring smiles to their faces, but to ours as well.  I can't even begin to tell you how good it feels to make kids, especially those near my son's age, smile when they may not be having the best day.  

It was also so awesome to have the support of the Royals and the wives, the smiles and laughter could be seen and heard throughout the whole floor.

If you would like to learn more about Headbands of Hope, you can check out their website at www.headbandsofhope.org 


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Friday, May 3, 2013

Last night I got the text no baseball wife wants to receive

Written by Cassidy Dover, Ghostwriter for The Life of the Baseball Wife

I had seen the writing on the wall. Ray’s last few games were erradic. One great one, one horrible, one solid, then last night.
The first inning was horrible. The next two were good. He even got a hit!
The saying goes if you can’t help your team in the field, have your bat do the talking. It was his first hit in a year and a half (pitchers don’t bat in one league). I was excited! He even ran the bases and scored a run!
Ray said when he went into the dugout the guys were all ragging on him.
“Wow, you run like an elephant!”
 “You love that left leg, huh? Thought you’d be running in circles out there”
“A gazelle has nothing on you old man”
Now to be fair, he doesn’t run the bases all that often. He is older, and he may not be as swift as your average outfielder on the bases.
But he knew something felt wrong.
Still, he tried to shake it off, took the ball, and headed back to the mound.
Then the next inning. The wheels fell off. The ball was hit and hit hard. If Ray threw a strike, it was hit and it was a fair ball. If it wasn’t in the outfield, it was over the wall.
Ray went in after the inning and immediately texted the minor league coordinator - “I need an MRI on my hip. Something happened sprinting from 2nd to third. I can’t generate any power from my legs”. Then he texted me.
I would be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t scared. I was and I am.
See, Ray has been playing baseball since he was what, 3 years old? And he’s always been good. If not, he wouldn’t be playing at this level for almost 2 decades. His life and identity are wrapped up in being a baseball player.
Don’t get me wrong. Ray is the kindest man. He’s a good husband, a fantastic father, friend, teammate and son. I also know in his mind, he’s a ballplayer. And not one who gives up 6 runs after 2 outs in an inning.
The next text came about 20 minutes later: “I’ve been released”.
I didn’t respond right away. It sank in. I took a deep breathe and wrote back, “I’m so sorry baby”.
What do you say? How do you comfort someone who’s heart is there but his body is rebelling? How do you tell him that everything will be OK when my idea of OK and his are very different at that moment?
An athlete’s soul and heart are so strong but the body has a point where it has limitations. As you get older, those limitations seem to rear their ugly head.
So began the waiting for the call. I was dreading hearing the sound of his voice. I didn’t know if I could keep the tears out of my voice. No facetime tonight. I’m not that strong.
Finally he did call.
“The team is having me looked at and will allow me to rehab with them. They’ve been honest there won’t be room for me when I’m ready to come off the DL so they are going to go ahead and release me but support my rehab. It’s fair”.
Fair. Who says it’s fair? Yes, it’s incredibly kind as the team, since Ray is on a minor league contract, could cut him loose and offer no support. But fair?
How is it fair that Ray’s dream, just hours before clear and on track could be derailed so easily? Ray said he needed to finish packing his stuff up and he’d be home today. Could I pick him up at the airport?
Sheridan, our daughter, has school and then practice. Any other day I’d have said grab a cab and I’ll meet you at home. Not this time.
I told him I’d be there.
He will need me. He’ll need me to be strong. He’ll need my arms around him to hold him and my voice to tell him we love him and believe in him. He’ll want to hear me say, “It’s going to be OK”. So as I try to be a mom, a wife, and true to my own fears and concerns, I move today in a trance. We won’t know anything until the MRI on Monday. Then we can start to plan after we know the results. It’s so hard.
I know Ray had been planning for when he’d retire. That doesn’t mean he’s ready to leave on these terms.
He doesn’t see it as I do - this last game was an example of the leader he is. He went out there, not 100% and tried. He knew he was hurting after running the bases but he went out, took the ball, and tried to play for his team and for the fans. He wouldn’t give up on himself because the team was giving him the ball and believed he was the guy for the night.
He only sees the crooked number on the scoreboard and the “L” after his name. Ray will always be a hero to us. I just pray he can have Grace with himself and patience and believe that this, too, is in God’s plan.
We just don’t understand it.
My phone is alerting me I’ve got another text.
Why am I so afraid to read it?

Enjoy every moment. You are never sure when you will be called on to face the battle that you always prayed wouldn’t be yours to fight.

Thanks for reading, Cassidy


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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Player to be Named: My Experience

Written by Nicole Johnson, Wife to Elliot Johnson

As I'm writing this, I'm sitting at our spring training rental just about halfway through spring.  About a month ago, I didn't think I'd be here in Arizona.  We actually had everything all set up for our spring training with the Rays that was to take place in Port Charlotte, FL.

The news that Elliot had been traded kind of blind-sided us.... well, the news that he had been designated did at least.  A couple weeks before spring training, Elliot was designated for assignment by the Rays.  He got the call one afternoon while we were hanging out, and we then knew we weren't going to be with the Rays for the 2013 season.

It was kind of surreal, really.  I know that trades are imminent in baseball, that it happens all the time, and that staying with the same team for 11 seasons (yep, 11) is unrealistic.  We didn't know anything different, really.

Luckily, my mom was already planning a trip to come down that following weekend.  I was running in a half marathon in St. Pete in just a few days.  It really couldn't have worked out better.  So my mom flies in, and we get to packing while our son, Blake, is playing with Grammy.  We were still in our rental in St. Pete and since we knew we wouldn't be staying there, we had to start packing, pronto.

We soon found out that we would be joining the Royals, and were pretty excited, actually.  Elliot actually ended up being the "player to be named later" in a trade with James Shields and Wade Davis.  How lucky am I that I got traded to a team where I already had two friends, that had already joined the team about a month earlier?  It really doesn't get much better than that!  Add to that the fact that I went to college at Arizona State and half of Elliot's family lives in Arizona.  We were pumped to get to see our friends and family for spring training!

Within a week, we were all out in Arizona at our new rental.  The travel secretary for the Royals took great care of us and found us a rental with short notice.  Elliot drove over with a lot of our stuff and our dog, and I flew in a few days later with our son.  Whew!  Honestly, I still can't believe how much our lives have changed in a month!!

When I got into town, Katelyn invited me to join some of the girls she already knew at a luncheon.  They were so nice and inviting.  They have been so welcoming, offering to help me know where to rent in Kansas City, inviting my son and I to come on playmates, and inviting me to classes with them at the gym.  They are so great at making me feel comfortable even though I'm the new girl.

There are times where I feel a little sad.  It's like moving, really.  I miss my friends and I miss the comfort of knowing everyone and everything about where I'm supposed to go.  But our new team and  new friends have been great so far, and I'm looking forward to building long-lasting friendships with the Royals girls like the ones I have with my Rays friends.


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