Last night she asked me if anything ever makes me cry. She thinks I am matter of fact about things. I know she sees me as logical and rational. I told her there are lots of things that make me cry. I told her about the big ones.

I told her there is a story I heard once on the radio that always makes me cry. She did not want to make me cry so I did not tell her. As far as I know it is a true story. I have no reason to believe it is not, but I also have no way to confirm it.

It was back when Richie Ashburn passed away. Richie Ashburn, also known as Whitey was a Philadelphia Icon. As a player and as an announcer he was the heart of the Phillies. He was one of those nice guys that even the most hardened Philadelphia loved. He lived and died with the Phillies just like any other fan. I was lucky enough to get to speak to him a few weeks before he passed away. I felt lucky to just tell him I was a big fan and he was a big reason I loved baseball.

When you are a true Philadelphia icon you get a public wake on the radio. The local talk stations let people call up and remember the deceased. Most of the people called up and talked about the one time they got to meet him and how they always would remember it.

I was driving home one night when I heard this call. It was a middle age man who called with a deep sadness in his voice. He said that it was back in 1968. The guy had gotten all shot up in Vietnam. He was in a VA hospital and he was not doing very well. It was painful and he was not recouping well. He was not sure he was going to get through it.

It was in the winter before baseball season had started. He looked up to see Richie Ashburn walking in front of his bed. He said, "hey, I know who you are." Richie stopped and talked to this guy. They talked baseball for a few minutes. The man told Richie, "when I was growing up you were my hero. I wanted to play center field just like you."

By this time in the story the man was barely holding it together. It sounded like he was telling the story be cause he had to. He had testify to the kind of man Richie Ashburn was. He had to repay a debt.

The man asked Richie who was he in the hospital to see. Richie said that he was there to see his hero. The man wondered who in that hospital could be Richie's hero. It must have been some old World War I or World War II vet. Richie looked the man in the eyes and said, "you're my hero kid." Richie grabbed a chair and kept talking to the man for another hour.

By this time the man on the radio was in tears. I had pulled off the road also because I was crying also. He said before that day he was not sure he would ever get out of the hospital. That simple act of compassion had changed his life. The host of the radio show did not doubt the story. It was something well within Richie Ashburn's character.

There is something about that level of humanity in this story that always gets to me. The whole idea that you can give so little of yourself and still change someone's life. To this day this story still brings me tears.


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