This is a story of my Dad, and baseball, and mystic coincidence.
My father died this week. I had finished writing Dad’s obituary, and a poem for the inside cover of the funeral program card. I was working on the copy for the back of the card. We wanted to use quotes from the many wonderful tributes people had been sending us. I had heard a quote about the measure of a man that I wanted to use to tie the tributes together.
I Googled “measure of a man quotes” and dozens popped up. There were quotes from Martin Luther King Jr., Plato, Samuel Johnson, Joe Biden and even J.K. Rowling. That one might have worked, because Dad was a big Harry Potter fan, but none of these quotes were the one I was looking for. I didn’t know the author, so I wasn’t sure if I could find it.
I thought that maybe I would just go a different direction and find something else to say. I accidentally bumped my iPad, and the page reloaded. The photo of an elderly black man popped up.
I looked at the page, gasped, and immediately burst into tears.
Here is the mystical part.
A couple of years ago, My Dad and I were returning from a trip to Texas. Just before takeoff, I had settled in my seat and realized Dad was not next to me. I looked around and saw him talking to an elderly man a couple of rows away. As they shook hands and hugged, I wondered how Dad knew him.
Dad returned to his seat, and I asked him who he had been talking to.
“That,” he said, “was the great Ernie Banks.” His eyes were sparkling, the way I imagine my eyes would sparkle when I meet one of my favorite authors.
“Who’s Ernie Banks?” I asked, thinking perhaps it was one of Dad’s former colleagues.
“One of the greatest baseball players of all time, ” he grinned, ” first baseman for the Cubs, Hall of Famer. He rose up through the negro leagues and was a baseball superstar in the ’50’s and ’60’s. One of my heroes. I had to go over and introduce myself and say hello.”
My Dad played first base for his high school in the fifties, and though he was not a Cubs fan, he followed baseball his entire life. I grew up hearing Dad listen to baseball as he puttered around the garage doing chores. He loved the Brewers, the St. Louis Cardinals, Hank Aaron, and apparently, Ernie Banks.
Now, right there, on my iPad, under the picture of Ernie Banks, was the quote I had been looking for.
I don’t usually get all woo woo about such things, and perhaps I had just given up my search too soon, but I am convinced that either Dad or Ernie Banks sent it to me.
I copied the quote onto my document. My work was done.
” The measure of a man is in the lives he’s touched. “
National Baseball Hall of Fame
Presidential Medal of Freedom Winner
Dad’s friend in Baseball and Heaven
I wish you all happy coincidences,