Sunday, October 11, 2020

A Bucket of Balls

There was a story I came across this week watching the news. It was one of the few uplifting stories left on nightly news shows, and it was saved until the end of the broadcast. Thankfully. Something nice to savor.

An elderly man had cleaned out his garage and came across a bucket of baseballs. It stirred up any number of fond memories for the guy. You see, he used to throw hours and hours of batting practice to his son and eventually, his grandson. He coached them in games. Played catch with them in the yard. Great times for him and for them.

But as families do, kids grow up and have kids of their own. They move away. Time and distance sometimes separate that bond and what is left are just memories.

The man, Randy Long, decided that he couldn’t throw the bucket of balls away. Instead, he took it to a batting cage and left it with a note for someone to find. In part, the note read:

"Hope someone can use some of these baseballs. I pitched them to my son and grandson for countless rounds." 

Randy Long went on to say that his family is now grown and gone — but what he wouldn't "give to pitch a couple of buckets to them.  If you are a father, cherish these times."

Sad, isn’t it? Something so endearing, so precious to one, becomes just a bucket of balls to another.

This story, however, has a happy ending.

The bucket of balls and the note were found by Brian Robinson and his son, Carter. They took the note and the bucket of balls home with them.

This past week, Brian and his wife, Stormy, and their son, Carter, met Randy Long at a local park. Brian and Stormy explained that Carter’s grandfathers died when Carter was young and he never had the opportunity to have his grandfathers sit in the stands and watch him play. They invited Randy to one of Carter’s games. During that visit, Randy asked Carter if he wanted to play catch and they did.

For many of us on the backside of that mountain, what we did with our kids are memories. We try to embrace them. We try to recapture that moment. But somehow, it isn’t quite the same. Our kids grow up . . . as they should. Their lives become important . . . as they should.

For us, there is a bit of pride along with the pain. 

My daughter, Em, no longer plays soccer. Kim and I watched our kids play for twenty-six years. First Wil, then Hannah, and then Emily. Every year, every season. Em graduated from college and that was the end of that for Kim and for me. I had joked to some friends that she and I would have to adopt another kid or two so we could watch some more soccer.

I received a message from a parent letting me know that his son and a bunch of kids from my high school (I am retired) were playing a game and he thought the boys would love to have me come out and watch them. So, I did. I stood on the sidelines and watched with pride. Several of the boys came over during and after the game to say hello and thank me for coming. I was asked to have my picture taken with them after the game.

For me, I got to watch soccer again. Those young men mean something to me. I got to relive a moment or two. Just like it was for Randy Long and now for Carter, it was nice ending for me. For Randy Long, his baseball game went into extra innings. Who knows if or when it will end, but for the time being, Randy and Carter are playing some baseball. And, at least here and there, I get to watch some soccer. Not quite ready to close that chapter. Not yet. Something to think about . . .

To My Readers:
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Betrayed is now available for Kindle preorder to KDP Select at Amazon at:  and it is also available in print at:  
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, and no one is talking.

Betrayed received two more outstanding reviews:

“The Bottom Line: A stirring and unusual tale of teenage love, adventure and murder. While author Joseph Lewis has filled Betrayed with a large and compelling cast, the story belongs to Brian, one of several characters from Lewis’ excellent crime thriller, Spiral Into Darkness. The relationship between Brian and his family is incredibly well-drawn and often touching. Readers will be rewarded with an explosive adventure.”
-        Best Thrillers

"This novel is an action-packed thriller that will keep the reader turning the pages. The descriptions of settings and characters are extremely well done, and the pacing is perfect. The ending ties up all the loose ends, yet you feel (and hope) there will be more from these characters in the future. Action and adventure are the words of the day in this thrilling, well-written page-turner from Joseph Lewis.”
-        Sublime Review

“To call Betrayed a thriller alone would be to do it a disservice. It’s a social inspection of Navajo reservation culture and life, and its probe of the roots of love and connection are wonderfully woven into a story of adversity and the struggle to survive on many levels. These elements make Betrayed particularly recommended for readers who look for psychological depth and complexity from a story of violence and evolution.”
-        Diane Donovan, Editor; Donovan's Literary Services; Midwest Book Review/Bookwatch; Author of San Francisco Relocated.

Spiral Into Darkness:
Named a Recommended Read in the Author Shout Reader Awards!
He blends in. He is successful, intelligent and methodical. He has a list and has murdered eight on it so far. There is no discernible pattern. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, have no idea they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement.   

Caught in a Web:
A PenCraft Literary Award Winner!
The bodies of high school and middle school kids are found dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. The drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors and the Milwaukee Metro area is controlled by MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador. Ricardo Fuentes is sent from Chicago to Waukesha to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay, who had killed his cousin the previous summer. Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or members of his family.   

Caught in a Web is now available in Audio format. You can find it at:

Book One of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives:
Two thirteen-year-old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved.   

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
Six men escaped and are out for revenge. The boys, recently freed from captivity, are in danger and so are their families, but they don’t know it. The FBI has no clues, no leads, and nothing to go on and because of that, cannot protect them.  

Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
A 14-year-old boy knows the end is coming. What he doesn’t know is when, where, or by whom. Without that knowledge, neither he nor the FBI can protect him or his family.      

The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they don’t know one another, the lives of FBI Kelliher, 11-year-old Brett McGovern, and 11-year-old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out.       

Photos Courtesy of  Wendy Scofield and Unsplash.







  1. I really loved this story, it made me smile. To think, that this grandfather has now mwt some good friends also through this, and also can relate all the time to his little bit of nostalgia.

  2. What à lovely story. To think that this grandfather has now made good friends and can relive his little bit of nostalgia.

  3. Thank you for checking my work out. Yes, it is nice the grandfather was able to make a new chapter, not only for him but for the family, too.


Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe