The best game I never watched and why I no longer regret it.

Thursday July 23, 2009 was a typical summer day for the Roller family at that juncture of our lives. Emma was at the library and we had friends from our home school co-op over for a play date. That particular day Fred Prasil had brought his son Danny and daughter Ashleigh over who were close to the ages of my son Charlie and my daughter Lucy.

At the time I was the only full time home schooling Dad I knew but Fred Prasil was the closest thing to that. Fred and I had many things in common. We were both married to wonderful women named Amy who both worked full time in the public schools. We were both avid White Sox fans and could talk for hours and hours about sports.

Fred and I were the only men who taught at the co-op at the time. Fred taught art and gym classes where he was known as coach Fred. His paying job was also teaching gymnastics and other classes. He and his Amy would split the homeschooling duties at their house.

This particular Thursday was no different than the many times I had spent with Fred. The boys played light sabers and legos, the girls played princesses and Fred and I talked sports and held court on a variety of subjects.

I bet we mostly talked about the White Sox as it was the heart of baseball season. We didn’t think of switching on the radio and seeing how our beloved team was faring against Joe Maddon’s Tampa Bay Rays. We were enjoying each other’s company too much to think of it.

While we weren’t thinking of it, this was happening on the south side of Chicago…

Yes my favorite White Sox pitcher threw a perfect game and me the die hard White Sox fan that I am missed every single pitch because I was too busy talking White Sox with another die hard fan.

I didn’t realize the perfect game had happened until Fred and his kids had left and Charlie and I drove to pick up Emma from the library. We stopped at the Mcdonalds drive through on the way to the library and I turned the radio on to see if I could catch the end of the game. The post game was already on and people were already calling in to talk about the game. This happens at the end of every game, so it’s not unusual. What was unusual was the type of comments people were making and how excited everybody including the announced clearly was. It took me a few calls to realize what had happened.

At that point I got super excited, started switching channels to find out that Chicago was buzzing with the news. I got my food and drove home. I got out of the car and started telling Amy all about the game, but before I could get too far, she asked, “Where’s Emma?”

I had gotten so excited about the perfect game, that I had forgotten my daughter at the library! This was the reason I had left the house in the first place. Emma was eventually picked up and all was fine.

Or was it? For the next 9 1/2 years Fred Prasil , myself and Mark Buehrle’s perfect fame were inextricably linked together. If I saw Fred, I would think of the perfect game. If I saw Buehrle I would think about that day and how Fred and I could have been listening to the game while we hung out.

A few years after that Fred left the co-op but our families would still get together from time to time. Ashleigh and Lucy were in the same Awana program for a few years and last November I ran into Amy Prasil and Danny at Walmart and found that Fred had some interest in returning to our co-op. I was very excited and talked to Fred a week later and was glad to hear that he would be rejoining the co-op.

A very short time after that Fred died of a heart attack while he was coaching gymnastics. Like any sudden unexpected death it shocked everyone in the Prasil’s orbit. I went from anticipating weekly time with my friend to grieving his loss overnight.

Danny and Ashleigh were able to return to the co-op this year where they have been able to reestablish old friendships and grow new ones. I may not have seen Fred every week in co-op as I had hoped but I was able to see him in them.

And Mark Buehrle and my perfect game regret? I no longer have it. I still think of Fred when I see anything Buehrle related and think of him especially today on the 10th anniversary. But I would not change the day I spent with Fred on July 23, 2009 in any way (I would pick up Emma earlier. ) I always taught my kids that people are more important than things. The perfect game was really a thing, Time spent with friends and the memories they produce now that is as perfect as you can get here on Earth.

But Fred is not here on Earth. Like me, Fred was a child of God and a follower of Jesus Christ. Fred is in heaven right now enjoying an eternal relationship with his creator and savior. There is nothing more perfect than that!

Bill Buckner & The Cubs

Bill Buckner 1949 – 2019
Chicago Cubs 1977-1984

Bill Buckner, one of my childhood heroes, passed away on Monday. There are multiple news stories like this one from ESPN that will give you a biographical sketch of the former first baseman and outfielder. I want to focus here on his time with the Cubs.

Bill Buckner was traded from the LA Dodgers to the Cubs in January of 1977 along with Ivan Dejesus and a minor leaguer. The Cubs gave up Rick Monday and Mike Garman to acquire them.

Buckner played 7 full seasons for the Cubs and was traded to the Boston Red Sox in May of 1984 for Mike Brumley and Dennis Eckersly in 1984. Buckner had lost the starting first base position to Leon Durham in the off season and appeared in his last game as A cub on May 24th asa pinch hitter in the first game of a double header against the Atlanta Braves. He batted only .240 in limited action in 1984 but still hit .300 in his time for the Cubs.

Buckner played 974 games for the Cubs more than any of the other 4 teams he played for. His .300 batting average for the Cubs was 11 points better than he had hit hit with his first team the Dodgers (The .289 he hit with L.A. was equal to his lifetime average. In his 7+ years with the Cubs Buckner had hit 235 doubles 35 triples hit 85 homers and had over 500 runs batted in all the most he achieved on any of the teams he played for. The only thing that diminished with Buckner from his time on the Dodgers was a little of his speed. He had stolen 93 bases for the Dodges about 15 a year. That went down to about 7 a year on his time with the Cubs.

In 1977 when Buckner came to the Cubs, I had officially made the leap from the Cubs to the White Sox as my favorite team. But i still liked the Cubs and Bill Buckner became one of my favorite players on either side of town. Both teams were in contention in 1977 as well a great year to be a 12 year old baseball fan in Chicago. , The Southside Hitmen easily come to mind but don’t forget the Cubs who were in 1st place from May 28th to August 6th. before finishing 4th. .This was very disappointing for the Cubs and their fans as they had led at one point by 8 1/2 games near the end of June. Equally disappointing for Buckner was that the Cubs made it to the playoffs in 1984 but by then he had already been traded to the Red Sox.

You may have noticed no reference in this column to Buckner’s time after the Cubs. That is because I choose to remember him for his multiple plays for the Cubs and not for one play for the Sox team I don’t follow. It was great to think of him again and how much I enjoyed watching him play. I wish the best to his family. I’m sure multiple baseball fans over the country wish the same.

100th Post

I started this blog over 6 years ago and it has taken until now to get my 100th post.  I know we are smack dab in the thick of Cubs homerun hitters.  However I thought this would be a good time to play footage of Paul Konerko getting a hit on Paul Konerko Bobble head day at US cellular field,  I  am doing the announcing and the camera work.