By: Kurt Snyder
Baseball is a kid’s game. You know it. I know it. Everyone who loves the sport. They all know it.
My brother, Kent, has a photo in his basement. It’s a little boy, with his back to you, sitting in the centerfield bleachers of an old baseball stadium. It’s just the boy, there are no other people. There isn’t even a game going on. He is sitting the farthest distance from the plate. Waiting. With his glove. It’s perfect.
It screams baseball. And yet, it’s just a simple photograph. But it’s a powerful message. Baseball is about that little boy who comes to the game to see his favorite player or, if he’s really lucky, to take home that ball he hopes comes his way and finds his glove. That’s it. Baseball is a simple game. Baseball is about the young at heart.
If anyone can be described as young at heart, it’s my college buddy Greg. Stricken with liver cancer for the last 5 years all before 50 years old, Greg had a request; one you wouldn’t expect from someone in the kind of shape he was. He wanted to go to Vegas.
So, 8 guys, all graduates of Central Michigan University, headed to Vegas in March. A lot of people go there to celebrate. But not many go for the reason we did.
Greg, since the day I met him in college, would never pass up a good time. And this time, knowing his days were numbered, wanted to go out swingin’.
When originally diagnosed, the doctors gave him 18 months to live, that was 5 years ago. In December of 2014, the doctors gave him 12 months. That was more than 18 months ago.
It’s often said that life is what you make it. And this trip was a celebration of life. We are not all gamblers. Las Vegas is not for all of us. But we are like brothers. And one needed the rest of us.
Many of our wives, when told what my friend Greg wanted us to do, understood that we had to go. We had to drop everything. It’s a real test of friendship. I could not imagine not doing this for him. This is life. And a friend fighting for his. And if we could give him 1 minute, 1 hour, 1 day of joy during a trip to Vegas, we were going to do it.
None of us thought for even a moment that we wouldn’t go to Las Vegas with him. Not one of us. There was no question. I hope that says a lot about us as people. We told the Concierge about Greg. We told a Black Jack dealer. They all had that look in their eyes afterwards. Clearly, we were doing a great thing. They gave us their seal of approval without hardly saying a word. People were touched by our story.
So why am I sharing this story with you again? Well, Greg has lost his battle with cancer. And today we will celebrate his life once again, only this time it ends with a good bye.
Like that little boy in the bleachers, Greg eagerly anticipated what each day would bring. Still young at heart, cancer has claimed another. Good bye Greg. More good times await, my friend.