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!