It’s Nice to Have More Than One Family

When my daughter called home last week she was obviously distressed. She told her mother that a member of the Lynchburg Hillcats front office had passed away unexpectedly earlier in the day. Skylar Spencer was the Director of Ticketing and though he was only starting his second year with the club, he was already a member of the “family.” For one so young – he was 24 – it is difficult to comprehend the grief so many are feeling. My daughter was looking for support from her actual family and my wife – as she always does – provided that shoulder to cry on. Her advice to Ashley was for the Hillcats staff to lean on each other.

She really didn’t need to say that to my daughter as she already knew what it was like to have a second family. When she was looking for a job in minor league baseball I took her to two consecutive baseball winter meetings. At the Job Fair in Orlando she was offered a position with the Hillcats and she quickly accepted. Minor league baseball is a “family” she told me and the people who interviewed her fit that description.

Actually Ashley had been part of another family in college. At Ohio University she was a member of the marching band. The well respected Marching 110 was talented and in many ways a family. They had a number of traditions that made the family concept evident and never was it more apparent than at a high school band concert in Defiance. The 110 was the featured band and Defiance High School fed them supper before the evening performance. It was after the show that my wife and I ran into a woman who had helped feed the band.

She was amazed at what happened after the meal. Never in her 25 years of doing this had she seen it. After the members of the band left the cafeteria the woman went out to clean the tables. There was nothing to clean she exclaimed. The band members had taken all their trash and trays to the proper disposal sites. The woman was so complimentary that we felt proud of our daughter’s other family.

When we mentioned it to her later she was not impressed. That is one of our traditions she said. We always leave a place cleaner than we found it. Again, my wife and I could not hide our pride.

So now Ashley is with her newest family and they are grieving. As to her belief that minor league baseball is one big family, try this one. The San Jose (CA) Giants called a Lynchburg restaurant one day last week and had lunch catered to the Hillcats staff. It was their way of showing their concern and it’s what families do.

The view from my seat suggests that for now our thoughts and prayers go out to Skylar’s family. It will take a while for the Hillcats staff to recover from this shock. They will, eventually, because they are a family and it’s always nice to have a second family.