Lynna Clark: Walk worthy
We really enjoy watching the Atlanta Braves play. In fact we’ve been fans long enough to remember the days of Andrew Jones, Javy Lopez, John Smoltz, and long before that Dale Murphy. Now we appreciate all the new guys. I think what makes it so enjoyable is that the team is having a good time. They joke with the opposing fans and players. They laugh at each other and make fun of their own mistakes. I kinda love it. Plus all the winning is fun too.
The other night something terrible happened. One of our favorite players, Charlie Culberson, got hit in the head with a ninety-one mile an hour fastball. He immediately went down. As Charlie lay bleeding in the dirt, we waited… and prayed.
The third base coach, Ron Washington is a seasoned veteran who tends to treat each player as a son. As Charlie suffered, Papa Wash, as David dubbed him, kneeled in the dirt beside him. While medics attended his head, gently he patted Charlie’s leg as if soothing his son.
Eventually the medical staff was able to get our wounded player onto a cart. As they drove away Charlie lifted his head to search out the National’s pitcher Fernando Rodney. The men exchanged a moment of grace when Charlie simply gave him a thumbs up. Rodney was visibly shaken and struggled to maintain control when later he continued pitching.
A fastball to the head is serious. Most likely Charlie is out for the rest of this season. If bones are crushed near the eye socket his entire career could be over. I remember years ago when a player was hit with a similar pitch. Because of a shift in the position of the bones around the eye, the man no longer had the depth perception he needed to play. I’m sure both men were aware of the severity of the injury. Yet one simple gesture said in essence,
“It’s okay. I know the ball just got away from you.”
I felt almost as sorry for the pitcher as I did for Charlie. I wanted to hug him and usher him away from the field. Like Papa Wash I wanted to kneel in the dirt by Charlie. Like the man on the cart holding a towel on Charlie’s head I wanted to put an arm around his shoulder and tell him I’m proud of his reaction toward Rodney. Had I been there I would have tipped my cap and saluted the Washington fans for the silence they gave to the moment and later for their standing ovation as Charlie was carted away.
The Braves announcers were so sickened by the moment that Jeff Francoeur could hardly continue. Chip Caray chose his words wisely and promised us updates. He too expressed sympathy for the pitcher and even the manager of the opposing team.
None of them are perfect. But I love the Braves. They reminded me of something valuable. People are hurting all around us. May we kneel in the dirt, pat someone on the back, or gently speak a word of grace.
No matter where life takes us, may we do our best to walk worthy of our calling.
Lynna Clark lives in Salisbury. Read more at LynnasWonderfulLife.wordpress.com
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