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,