Friday, February 11, 2011

The Best Way I Know to Say Goodbye

This past week a coach/tournament director and all around good guy passed away. Rick Cox and I had lost touch over the last 6 or 7 years but we go way back. When I was 16 or 17, I had my first experience umpiring him. I can tell you that we didn't get along. I had rabbit ears and he wanted every call to go his way. Over the years, we battled each other over and over but we also built quiet a bit of respect for one another.

When I was 19, I took over the umpires at our local association. Later that year, Rick got signed up with Super Series Program and started running some small local tournaments. At the end of the year, he ran a huge week long tournament at my complex. He was told by the main people at Super Series that he shouldn't use a 19 year old to run him umpires for this tournament but he decided that he would stick with me. That always meant a lot to me.

The week was a hectic week and the weather was awful. We had two full days rained out but Rick and I figured out how to get almost all of the games in. We actually played the championship of the 14 year old boys at 3:30 in the morning. It was a blast.

After that week was over, Rick and I continued to work together in tournaments and argue with each other on the field. It was a great couple years.

After a few years, Rick backed away from the game (I have now found out it was due to health issues) and we lost touch. But I have never lost the respect for the man that really cared a lot of youth baseball in the St. Louis area. He was a very intense man, but he was also a very knowledgeable baseball coach and tournament director.

I have learned that the last few years of his life were not very pleasant. At least now, Rick is finally at peace and hopefully, kicking it with Babe Ruth and the rest of the greats.

Rick you will be missed and you will never be forgotten. Rest in Peace!!!!

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