Tuesday, July 8, 2014
It was June 11, 2006. We were on our very first family vacation ever. North Carolina was a place I had always wanted to see… the beaches, the hot air balloons, the sand dunes. We were up and at it early on that morning heading to the hot air balloon festival when Dutch got the call. I knew by the sound of his voice that something was really wrong. I heard that voice twice before. That voice brought chills to my skin ever since the first time I heard it in May 1997 when his dad passed. Sadly, I was correct. Again, that voice meant devastation. Moose passed away while watching and coaching the sport he loved that beautiful summer morning. His attention to the Center Township baseball fields was remarkable. He loved the sport. He loved the field. He loved the community. Let’s fast forward to the Summer of 2014. 8 years since that terrible morning when the community lost a great servant. The boys (and girls) that were playing on the field that dreadful day and that attended their beloved coaches viewing all dressed in uniform are now 19 years old. They now stand on the first base line as the community pays respect to Moose, his family, and friends with the dedication of Moose Hepler Field. His wife, brothers, mother, children, nieces and nephews stood with tears running down their cheeks listening to the announcer describe to a whole new generation of ball players what this special guy did for the field that they now play on. He explained the love that Moose had for his family and for baseball. The announcer talked about how every coach scribes their initials or name into the balls they keep in their buckets so that no one else takes them. A “moose” ball has not been seen in years. It was this summer that a “moose” ball arose from the woods. It was a miracle that it still existed, was not water-logged, and still had his name written in black sharpie. This was fate. Moose’s 19 year old son that was playing ball 8 years ago, now had the opportunity to pass that experience on to a team of bright eyed, eager 10 year olds as they stood on the third base line. The symbolism of a divine connection was clear. The triad of the father, son and holy spirit was personified now as the family, the 19 year olds and 10 year olds stood watching Mike throw that “moose” ball to the catcher for the first pitch of the game these young boys will now play on the field dedicated to Moose Hepler. Moose Hepler field! Moose – Hepler – Field. It was glorious this summer morning as the dedication sign was unveiled. One week later. Josh Hepler, 10 year old. Nephew of Moose Hepler. Josh was only 2 years old in 2006 so he does not have a lot of memories of his Uncle Moose, but he knows he loved him. He knows that Moose loved the sport of baseball and knows how special it was that he got to play on Moose Hepler field for this Center Township Tournament. Josh showed all his team mates the sign that proudly displayed his uncle’s name. Josh watched as his dad took pictures of the sign and had a “moment” the night before as the Warriors played under the lights. Josh saw me talking to the other baseball mom’s explaining how this “Moose Hepler” is related to us. It was now the second day of the tournament and the Warriors got to play on Moose Hepler field yet again. I was Josh’s first time at bat for the day. He looked at me and gave me a wink and I giggled and rolled my eyes. First pitch…. The ball brushed his pant leg. Second pitch… it was a hit. It soared above the in-fielders. It soared above the out-fielders. It rose above the fence marked 183 feet. It was a HOME RUN! Josh’s first tournament, over the fence home run. It was an amazing moment. It was at that moment that you could almost feel a warm embrace. Moose’s mother was there to see it happen. Again, it was an extraordinary event. Tears came to my eye knowing how proud Moose would have been. I quickly picked up my phone to text Moose’s wife to tell her of this beautiful event. Her response was absolutely priceless. “Angels in the outfield”. It is moments like this that it reaffirms my faith that there is divine intervention and things happen the way they are supposed to happen.