Houston Patterson

My friend Houston Patterson died 8 years ago this June.

I met Houston when he was 7 and I was 6. We played on the Dallas Yankees t-ball team. Houston was the best player on the team and played first base.

He had this killer move at the plate. He would position his body like he was going to hit the ball to left field and then wait until the defense shifted in anticipation of a rocket shot to left field. Once the fielders moved into their positions, Houston would shuffle his feet and drive the ball to right field - where no one was standing. Unstoppable! Even as a 7 year old!

We played baseball together from that time all the way through high school. Houston played centerfield, hit lots of doubles, and liked to show off his shotgun arm. (Note that I did not say "rifle arm" as that would connote accuracy.) I sat on the bench, got a few lucky hits, and played with some great players and on some great teams.

Shortly after his death, Houston's parents, Rick and Joyce Patterson, started a scholarship fund in Houston's honor. (My sister was actually the first recipient of the Houston Patterson Scholarship.)

Every year, Rick and Joyce put on an alumni baseball game to raise funds for the scholarship. This past weekend marked the 7th game. My line?

- 3-5 - 2 screamers in the gap, one blooper hit. (Still trying to re-capture my Year 6 form in which I hit a 3-run homer.)

- 3 runs scored.

- One whiff so hard that my back still hurts.

- One great backhanded stab on a grounder up the middle. (The firstbaseman dropped my throw. Good times.)

- One double play turned off a grounder to my brother Evan at 3rd base. Boggs, Boggs, Summey - not quite Tinkers, Evers, Chance.

- Countless laughs and memories with the friends I grew up with.

- One somber inning played in Houston's centerfield position.