May 11, 1985 that was the day Cupid drew back her bow and fired. Yes, I say her, because in our case it was a her. A seventy-something, very Southern her, by the name of Allie. Yes, Allie was a true cupid who worked her magic on that sunny May day. Fifty years before she had drawn back her bow and shot into the hearts of my maternal grandparents who married nine months later. Nine months after she hit us square in our hearts, Phillip and I were married. Pretty amazing, that Allie was.
I was quiet, an introvert, an independent young woman. I always went by the rules, I was organized, I planned. I’m not sure what happened that May because all of what I was, and all that following the rules stuff, went out the window. I was taking college Summer courses in my hometown and decided I needed somewhere to catch some rays. Allie was a good friend of my grandparents. Her husband had passed and my Nannie had passed, so Allie and grandaddy hung out together. Allie lived in an apartment. Her apartment complex was small, maybe just eight or nine buildings, but there was still a pool and the perfect spot for me to soak up some sun. I called up Allie one day and asked if it would be okay if I came over after classes and she said, “Of course.” She added in her lovely Southern Sumterite accent, “Now there are some Braves playas livin’ ovuh here. They are pretty cute.” I am thinking, “Oh Allie, I really don’t need that.” I had my life planned out already…..graduate, move to Charleston, and find a job. I would meet someone, be engaged for a year, plan a fabulous wedding, live in a house with a big porch, and have four children. My plan was perfection to me, but God had something planned that in no way could I have ever imagined.
I will say I have always loved baseball. I remember swinging a wooden bat that was so heavy I could hardly swing it as my maternal grandaddy pitched to me in his backyard, then spending afternoons with him watching Braves games on TV. I remember watching my uncle play college baseball at Austin Peay. I grew up playing ball in the backyard with my dad, my brothers, my sister and wherever we could find a spot with all of our friends in the neighborhood. I loved it and wished that I could play Little League, but that was in the days when Little League was for boys only. Every Saturday, every chance I got, I was in front of the TV watching baseball. So, when I heard the Braves were bringing their A-Ball Team to little ol’ Sumter, South Carolina, I was excited to be able to go watch some games. When I visited my dad in the Summers, we always took in several Nashville Sounds games, so here was another chance to watch some Minor League baseball.
One day I was sitting and reading my hometown newspaper and I remember mama was in the kitchen cooking supper. I got to the sports page and saw an article written about one of the Braves players that was on the Sumter team. There was a picture along with that article. It was a picture of Phillip and I said something to my mother like, “Hey, this guy is kind of cute.” Little did I know that within a week or so I would be meeting this cute guy. On May 11th I was sitting at the pool with Allie the Cupid and she says, “Look, here comes a Braves playa.” Okay Allie. I remember when I first saw Phillip walking up to that pool. At the time I didn’t recognize him from the newspaper article. I thought to myself, “Well, this guy really thinks he’s something.” I later found out that he and his roommate had been watching me from their kitchen window where they lived in the apartment above Allie’s. They thought I was only eighteen, but I guess Phillip decided he would come check that out. Allie introduced us and I really don’t remember much after that. The arrow had been shot and had hit its mark, even though I would try my best to fight it, the deed was done. I didn’t want anything to do with a ballplayer. As my mama said, “They have a girl in every port.” There was just something different about Phillip to me. I liked his confidence, I liked talking to him and finding out how much we really had in common, the Texan and this Carolina girl. It was just easy being with him, and it still is. I still fought it though. I wanted my plan, my way and that’s it. Then one day a few months later he says, “I want you to go back to Texas with me.” Oh gosh.
Yep, I was still fighting that arrow. I mean this was too weird for the introvert that I am. God I want my plan, what is this kink you have thrown into it? Well, yes, in the end, I did decide to go. Something was telling me that I needed to, some feeling that I thought of as just plain crazy. I’ve figured out that when something seems odd to the human mind, it’s usually God speaking to you. It’s just hard to listen, but I did and thus began this thirty two year journey with my wonderful husband. This beautiful journey of falling in love, marriage, children, and baseball. I know at the time my mama thought this was so unlike her very “do everything by the book” daughter, and mama wasn’t real happy with Allie the Cupid. As Phillip and I drove out of Sumter, down the tree lined West Calhoun Street, past the apartment where we had met, past my grandaddy’s house, I was still wondering what happened to the girl I knew just a few months before. Here I was heading West into a world I knew nothing about. My world was about to open up. My protective bubble of a small town life with my family to protect me, was about to burst. It’s exactly what God wanted for me and I know that now. So much adventure behind me and so much ahead. So many opportunities that have blessed me and allowed me to grow. This is what I think of at the beginning of each new Baseball Season. I think back to that wonderful Spring and Summer of 1985 that started it all, when God guided Cupid to draw back her bow and let those arrows go…… and I wouldn’t change a thing.