Friday, July 10, 2009

A simple Baseball game helps a fan to forget cancer, if only for a few hours.

By Mike McStay

There are times in life when we need a lift. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and we are left wondering why. But, sometimes a simple game of baseball can help people to forget their problems and to, just for a minute, return to being normal. I saw a classic example of this on 7-7-2009 in Daejeon, South Korea at a Korea Baseball Organization game.

One of the fans of the Hanwha Eagles has cancer. His surgery will be soon and that day he made out his will and he made a video saying goodbye to everyone. He just wanted to go somewhere and forget the day that he had just had. This fan saw, last year’s member of the Hanwha Eagles, Doug Clark, who now pays Left Field for the Seoul Heroes. He knew him and he went to talk to his hero "Superman." (Clark Kent= Doug Clark+ Massive power Home Runs= Korean fans nickname "Superman)

He told Mr. Clark, to please hit 5 home runs for him that day. He reminded him about the sick kids with cancer stories that we have all seen in various media. How an athlete will hit a HR for a kid. The fan sated that the 5 HR's in one game would be unforgettable. They both laughed at it and the player went into the field for batting practice and the fan went to the box office to get him a good seat for the game.

The fan reminded himself that 5 HR's in a game is very rare but still it would be nice to see it actually happen. For awhile, the fan looked at the baseball field and he smiled. His mind was healthy and he forgot about the cancer. He forgot about trying to raise funds for the surgery, he forgot about all of the problems that the last few months has brought him. He just was smiling because he was alive again and able to enjoy the simple pleasures of the game of baseball.

Mr. Clark was the first batter up on the top of the first and when the count went to 2-2, the fan was thinking, OK "Superman, now hit one for me", and with the next pitch Clark hit a HR and the fan could not believe it. Could he really get 5 HR's in one game?

His next 2 at bats were a walk and the pitcher hit him with the ball. So after 3 innings he was still 1-1 with a HR.

It was the top of the 5th when Clark came to bat next. But, this time it was different, this time there were 2 runners on base and the Eagles had brought in a new pitcher to face "Superman". Once again, it did not matter. After it went to a 1-1 count; Clark hit a 3 Run HR. The fan cannot believe what he has seen for far. His Hero is now officially 2-2 with 2 HR's and 4 RBI's. Could he actually get to 5 HR's in a game?

Clark's next at bat was the top of the 7th and sad to say, he grounded out. So he is still 2-3. When he was due for his next at bat on the top of the 9th the Heroes manager replaced him with his back up. He finished this night 2-3 with 2HR's, 1 walk, 1 hit by a pitch, 3 runs and 1 stolen base.

After the game was over, the fan waited for Clark to take off on the Heroes' bus. When they met, they both had huge smiles on their faces. The fan, because his hero had hit 2 nice Home Runs and because Clark, had a great game and his team won 12-10. They shook hands and as the fan was leaving Clark stated, “That I owe you 3 more Home Runs!"

I have head over the years that baseball is just a game, that is doesn't mean anything. Tonight's game wasn't a major event in the world. It was played between the 5th place Heroes and the 8th place Eagles. But it sure meant a lot to the fan that was just for a few moments able to feel a ballpark come alive with the sounds of the fans cheering on their team. He forgot about Cancer, money and death and focused on just having fun at a ballgame.

If you can remember after September 11th, the firefighters, police and rescue workers used the Mets and the Yankees as a valve just trying to regain some sanity when their world were altered by the events of that day. Baseball helped these people to feel normal. We get so busy that sometimes we forget that a simple game played with 9 men can make you feel alive. I hope that this fan beats his cancer and can return, soon to the small park in Daejeon Korea, where his favorite Korean baseball team, the Eagles, and the fan himself, call home.

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