In my motivational program/book The All New & Improved You, I pointed out that one of the four foundational building blocks for a happy successful life is FAMILY.
I have taken added responsibility for my paternal family for I am the oldest surviving heir of the Haynes surname.
I have worked on our family tree. I have organized family reunions in the past.
But recently I realized how badly I have failed this responsibility.
It started with a phone call from my sister Carol. She asked me if I had heard Brock Funk had died, did I remember him? Of course I did. He was the grandson of my first cousin Peary, and the son of his daughter Roxanna.
What I remembered was that Brock was an awesome baseball player, although he also played great basketball and football for Grayson County High School. Ten years ago I used to go watch Grayson County play in the Coppinger’s Tournament in Bluefield. For 4 years Brock’s hitting and pitching would lead the Blue Devils to the finals bracket. I knew he had gone to UVA-Wise and played great for them. But although I often saw his grandparents, Peary and Becky Moore, and his parents, Tiny and Roxanna Funk, I never thought to ask about Brock.
I traveled to Fries the next day for an impromptu memorial service. It was held, appropriately, on the pitcher’s mound of Sap Jones Field. The young speaker’s heartbroken eulogy on Brock dug deep into my soul. When I got home, I went to the internet and begin finding stories about Brock.
I discovered just what a phenom Brock was on the diamond. Every great athlete has a defining moment that makes them a legend though. I learned what that moment was for Brock.
I remembered back in 2004 a young boy, Chris Coleman, had died. Chris was a cousin to Brock, and apparently idolized him. At his viewing, Brock told Chris’ parents that he was going to do something special for Chris in the state regional playoff game the next day.
He kept his promise. He pitched a no-hitter. It was nearly a perfect game. In the final inning, a batter struck out on a pitch into the dirt. The catcher hit the runner in the back on the throw to first. The next batter hit into a double play. The game was won when Brock hit a two-run homer deep into center field. Many witnesses swear the ball hit the flag at the top of the pole. Brock was named the Single A player of the year.
I read that at UVA-Wise, he set the record for the most appearances and the most innings pitched. He loved to have the ball in his hands.
Brock was a truly gifted athlete, but athletics can become a fleeting and haunting memory.
He was much bigger than his 6’4”, 230 pounds. He matured into a true man of God.
He never buried his lamp, his faith illuminated all those around him. As a coach and teacher, he never hesitated to show his faith by teaching morals. Brock touched the lives of many people in his 28 years.
What Brock has taught me is that I can’t stop with just knowing my first cousins. In the weeks to come, I’ll be contacting them, and getting updated information. Families are not static, they are dynamic. I will add to the family-tree the new branches, and even the buds. I will also plan a family reunion for 2015.
An old joke tells about a baseball fan’s conversation with his priest. The priest tells him that he has good news, and bad news, for him. “What’s the good news?” the man asked. The priest replied “there is baseball in Heaven.”
“That’s great,” he said. “But what’s the bad news?” The priest answered, “you’re pitching tomorrow night.”
On January 16, 2015, God placed the ball in the hand of Brock Anthony Michael Funk and said, “you’re pitching tonight.”
Brock answered, “LET”S PLAY TWO!”
I hope to hear from all of you on this blog.