I remember when Nick Adenhart died in 2009. You've most likely never heard of him. I knew who he was for a few reasons: Because he played baseball, because he played for my team's rival, and because, as my wife says, I'm a "baseball encyclopedia." His death was tragic. A very young man just making his way into "The Show" and life was taken from him. It was also taken from his family who wouldn't have the chance to see him become the man he was destined to be, nor would they have the chance to say goodbye. After his death was reported, I spent quite a while dwelling on it because I hated to see something like that happen and I really do "keep them in your thoughts and prayers" as many people often say they will. Someone who was close to me wanted to know why it mattered to me at all. "It's not a big deal, it's not like you knew him." Well, sure... But just as there's a fine line between love and hate, I feel that there's often times a fine line between life and death. We can't escape it and, even worse, we can't predict it.
Tony Gwynn died Monday. I spent a majority of the day reflecting on him, his accomplishments, his lasting legacy, and his impact on other people. But mostly I thought about his family. His son Tony Jr., or as his dad called him, Anthony, plays for the Phillies. I hate that Tony will not have the chance to watch Anthony play another game. Or that Anthony's kids will not have a grandfather who was worth looking up to.
Last night another person I never met died. Richard Durrett covered the Texas Rangers and anything else in the sports world that needed reporting. I always thought he was a great person to listen to on the radio because I could feel the cheeriness of who he really was coming out. "The thing I liked about him was he never tried to get vicious. He told the story that should have been told the way it should have been told. He cared about people," said Ron Washington. I'm blown away by the outpouring of love from his colleagues who are hurt by Richard's passing. I'm even more blown away by the athletes, as they generally despise the media.
According to everyone who knew him, Durrett was a faithful man. He was faithful to TCU, where he was an alum. He was faithful to his wife Kelly, whom he met while attending TCU. And he was faithful to his kids, Owen (6) and Alice (3), plus one on the way. And he was faithful to God. It's a terrible thing to think that Durrett was such a great guy and wonderful father, and his kids will not get to grow up with his guidance.
Things like this shouldn't affect me. As someone infamously once told me, "People die every day, and you don't grieve for them." But I do. And I don't really like talk about it. Maybe no one will read this, that's okay. As a matter of fact, it's more than okay. I wrote this for me to remember how I felt on this day. I know it's difficult, and it may sound weird, but I think it's good for perspective to remember the emotionally hard times as much as the good times.
Death is a funny thing. It takes good guys when there are people on earth who need them here. Much more than the Rangers need a beat writer, Owen and Alice need their dad and Kelly needs her husband.
As tough as it may be, the bible verse below trumps all that I previously wrote. Richard is with Jesus, and that is his reward for being the kind of man he was. Kelly and Owen and Alice can take delight in knowing that he is with the Lord tonight.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. -John 14:1-2