Baseball and Joplin

You can thank the 1985 World Series, known as the I-70 Series, for this post.

Baseball aficionados will remember that the Kansas City Royals bested the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh and final game of the match-up.  For those unfamiliar with God’s game, having two teams from the same state play each other for the penultimate title in major league baseball is hysterically cool. 

For anyone unfamiliar with Missouri geography, a ribbon of interstate connects the two cities from west to east with roughly 200 miles in between.  It’s a sibling rivalry made more contentious because these two metropolitan areas are decidedly different in just about every way. 

Anyway, I went to Game Six that year, and watched as the World Series win not only cemented the Royals as the best team for that year, but also saw the birth of the annual mid-June tradition of recreating the I-70 Series during interleague play.

This year’s heated battle is more special than usual.  

You see, both ball clubs, along with Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are united for a cause bigger than baseball:  helping in relief efforts for the victims and survivors of the May 22 EF5 (the deadliest) tornado that slammed through Joplin, MO.

The EF5 tornado numbers for this southwestern Missouri city of less than 43,000 are staggering:

  • 200 MPH winds, difficult to survive without the protection of an underground basement.
  • 6,953 homes and 800 businesses were completely destroyed.
  • 6 schools were destroyed – 2 High Schools, 2 Middle Schools and 2 Elementary Schools.
  • 141 people were killed; 1,300 were injured; 750 hospitalized; and 500 in shelters.
  • The estimated cost to rebuild Joplin is $1.9-$3 billion.

The Joplin tornado is considered to be the most deadly in modern record-keeping dating back to 1950 by the National Weather Service.

It is second only in the service’s records of an 1840 tornado in Natchez, Miss., when 317 people died on May 6. 

Dire health-related conditions

Now there are reports surfacing of additional deaths as tornado victims succumb to a nasty fungus called Zygomycosis which develops when soil or vegetative material becomes embedded under the skin.

“This fungus invades the underlying tissue and actually invades the underlying blood vessels and cuts off the circulation to the skin,” Dr. Uwe Schmidt, an infectious disease specialist at Freeman Health System in Joplin, told the Huffington Post.

So, please, keep praying for the good folks of Joplin, as well as for the hundreds of clean-up workers.

So much more than baseball

More than my love for baseball is love for my home state of Missouri.  I lived there 48 years of my life and there are two very special people living in Joplin who have not only been a part of my life for 44 of those 48 years, they played a significant role in my getting sober 20 years ago.

To say I love them is a grand understatement, as is saying I’m intensely relieved that they are, at least physically and materially, unharmed.  I can’t begin to imagine the everlasting damage to their psyches, however.

In the passing of our days, when we find ourselves taking what is right in front of us for granted, please pause, really look, really feel a connection with what you’re doing and with where you are because when we forget to be where we are today, we may just feel a sense of regret should it be quickly be ripped from us.

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