Here in the Atl, we are on par with Cleveland (at best) in terms of major sport championship futility. We’ve got nothing other than our World Series Championship in 1995 – against Cleveland (ironically). In fact our biggest sports moment is not actually in that World Series, it’s 3 years earlier when “Sid slid” against the Pirates to send the Braves to the 1992 World Series (that we would lose to Toronto). While Atlanta fans were experiencing pure euphoria after “Sid slid”, there was a different story brewing on the Pittsburgh side. It’s chronicled in the video below, on July 10’ths ESPN SportsCenter.
Rich Donnelly was the 3rd base coach for the Pirates on that night. He had received a paper/memo of a phone message (remember those?) in the clubhouse before the game that night from his 17 year-old daughter Amy, who was in the hospital losing her battle with brain cancer. The message was goofy and odd – “Dear Dad, the chicken runs at midnight, Love Amy.”
Donnelly relays here the heart-wrenching reality that is true of many of us dads with both boys and girls. Whenever his boys wanted to go out and play catch with dad, Rich dropped whatever he was doing and joined them immediately. But when his baseball loving daughter Amy would make the same request, he’d say “just a minute honey, let me finish this first.” He says Amy always stayed light-hearted though, and made sure she got a moment of levity to him with her message just before the most important game of his life.
This is when the story gets next level crazy. A chicken running at midnight, a nonsensical inside joke among family, actually turned into prophecy. Here’s something from “somewhere” else for crotchety old coaches everywhere (like me) who admittedly “don’t believe in miracles”:
BTW……Invest the 10 minutes in this video. This is evidence that our loving, relational, trinitarian God is alive and well…….and he let’s us know sometimes in the coolest of ways…..
Meanwhile….at the ESPY’s last night, another “chicken was running at midnight”. Craig Sager, the most colorful sideline reporter in the history of sports, was given the Jimmy Valvano award (the ESPY version of “person of the year”). He looks uncannily like the other “chicken man” (also named Craig) in that video, doesn’t he?
Sager (suffering from advanced stage cancer) gives a speech that sounds a lot like what it might really look like if the poultry infused soul in all of us were to scatter about joyously after hours……on either side of death.
Time is something that cannot be bought, it cannot be wagered with God, and it is not an endless supply. Time is simply, how you live your life. I am not an expert on time, or on cancer, or on life itself. I’m a kid from the small Illinois town of Batavia, who grew up on the Chicago Cubs and made sports his life’s work. Although there has never been a day where it actually felt like work. I’ve run with the bulls in Pamplona. I’ve raced with Mario Andretti in Indianapolis. I have climbed the Great Wall of China. I have jumped out of airplanes over Kansas. I have wrestled gators in Florida. I have sailed the ocean with Ted Turner. I swam with the dolphins in the Caribbean. And I have interviewed Gregg Popovich, mid-game, Spurs down seven. If I have learned anything through all of this, it is that each and every day is a canvas waiting to be painted, an opportunity for love, for fun, for living, for learning.”