I know many of you who have followed this site over the years know about the charity softball tournament this site puts on. But I’m not sure if I ever shared why I do it. It’s time to share why this means so much to me. Years ago I attempted to quit smoking and took the drug Chantix. This was before the black box warning they put on the box today. I took the drug and it seemed to work but it had some very major side effects. It caused me to hallucinate and become someone I never in my life thought I would become. It turned me into a violent and angry person. The entire time I was taking the drug all I could think about was hurting myself and others. Without going into detail here. I almost hurt someone I loved more than anything in this world. Knowing this was not who I am. I checked myself into the the local hospital. They did not know about the side effects of this drug since it was fairly new at the time. They held me for a week and released me thinking the drug had cleared my system. It didn’t. A few days after being released I checked myself back in. They held me for another week. When I was released the second time. I found myself homeless. Not wanting to be a burden on my family and friends. I went to the only place I had to go, the local homeless shelter.
At the shelter I was treated very badly by the staff. It was in the middle of winter here on the east coast and the temperatures were well below freezing. The other homeless people at the shelter helped me make it through this very hard time in my life. They showed me how to survive in weather when the temps never got above freezing. They would have given the shirts off their backs to help me. After sleeping on a mat laid on the hard floor for a week. I made the trek across town with a bag to a friend I knew would give me shelter.
As I crossed town dragging my bag and a Dodgers blanket on my back on a 15 degree day. I walked past an independent minor league ball park here in town. As I walked around behind the outfield fence. I stopped and looked through the fence at the snow covered field. You could see some grass making its way to the sun where the snow had melted a few days before. As I stood there thinking. I may be cold and at rock bottom in my life. But soon it will be spring and baseball will once again be played on that field. I will overcome all this and enjoy the game I love and get on with my life once again.
It was about this time that the guys on my forum started to learn of what was going on, and started to buy shirts from my store even though they already had them. The few dollars I made allowed me to get back on my feet and find a room to rent by the week. I thought how can I repay them other then sending them some old baseball cards worth more than what they paid for the shirts. And how can I repay the kindness that was shown to me by the other homeless at the shelter. It was then when I came up with the idea of having the softball tournament for charity.
My forum members came from the old Dodger Blues forum. Most of the forum members were banned from pretty much all Dodger related sites or forums so the LFP was sort of created for these die hard fans no one wanted. (Its been both a blessing and a curse over the years) I’d give them a chance to play against the other blogs and websites. Of course they jumped at the idea. But first they needed to put away their differences with each other and all come together as a team. Somehow they managed to do that. They came out from behind the computer screens and had to meet each other face to face. It was a beautiful thing to see people come together for a good cause and put their differences behind. It also gave the other sites a chance to see the people that followed them and make friends.
The first tournament was a huge success. The ones that followed were not as great for the charities. All the donations gathered at the third tournament fit into the trunk of my rental car. Last year the teams involved responded by overwhelming me and the charity. It was an incredible out pouring of giving. The amount of clothes, shoes, food and diapers that were donated astounded the people at the mission who unloaded the rental truck. It was such a great feeling knowing that Dodgers fans came together to do this.
I want you all to know how much I appreciate each and everyone of you who come out to play in this event. Its because of you and the people I have met on my journey through life that we, not I do this. No one knows what lies ahead. No one ever thinks they will be homeless. But sometimes life throws you into a situation you never thought you’d be in. It is only then. Through charity from strangers and your own strength, that you see there is hope, and soon there will be a game on that snow covered field that looks so cold and alone.