This story is simply too good not to tell and it is appropriate that it should be my first on field baseball story of the year.
The Insignia for a “Full Bird” US Army Colonel.
Those of you who have followed this blog know that I am affiliated with the Venice High School Baseball program. I am fortunate enough to announce their games and to still have enough left, in a soon to be sixty year old arm, to throw a little BP.
This story begins in 1967 when a gentleman by the name of Colonel Jack Dundas retired to the lovely Florida Gulf Coast city of Venice Florida. The Colonel saw combat in WW II, Korea and Vietnam. He earned seven, count em, seven Purple Hearts including three at the pivotal Battle of the Bulge, two in Korea and two in Vietnam.
As a Florida retiree, “Jack” became a great fan and supporter of Venice High School athletics. He grew a special affinity for the baseball team and was a regular not only at their games but practices, and I mean every practice. In the 12 years in which we shared the same affinity I can count on one hand the times he was absent from a practice.
In the Fall of 2011 we lost the Colonel and the Venice High Baseball team dedicated their 2012 season to him. It was a storybook year which ended with the Indians capturing their second State Championship in five years.
Venice High School, 2012 Florida 7A State Champions
Before the season began, the team honored the Colonel by marking his seat in the bleachers.
Well on the day this plaque was installed, I received a call from friend and VHS’ Coach “K”. He said, “Ray I have a story to tell you”. He proceeded to tell me that as the installation of the plaque was coming to an end, a Bald Eagle showed up and circled the field, perched a bit on the left field light tower and after lingering for about 10 minutes or so moved on.
The Bald Eagle is a resident of Florida and it is always a treat to catch the elusive glimpse of this magnificent creature.
Last Monday, the Venice High School baseball team embarked on their State Championship defense as day one of tryouts for the 2013 squad took place. The new boys arrived at the field filled with all the tension and excitement of young men trying to take their game to the next level.
The players stretched, threw and were ready to go. Head Coach Craig Faulkner made his way to the center of the diamond and called the players to the middle of the infield. I was standing behind the Coach when Coach “K” caught my attention, “Hey Ray” he said, “the Colonel just showed up”. My eyes scanned the sky as I watched the Florida Bald Eagle circling in the outfield. He soared and circled about a half-dozen times and then perched on the left field light tower. He sat and observed until Coach Faulkner finished his welcome and the players made their way to their positions. Satisfied that the kids were in good hands, he spread his wings, gave flight, circled a couple of times and was on his way.
Thanks for stopping by Colonel, it’s comforting to know you are always close by!
This past week, two young writers I know jumped into the cyber world of the blog. They are young, fresh and bring a perspective to all sports which I know any sports fan will enjoy. I invite you to check them out and pass on their links. Actually, I would like to have a buck for each sports “discussion” I have had with these young men.
Welcome aboard Marcus and “Boom”.