So I was flipping through my program at the Nationals-Braves game last night, and I noticed a familiar name on the Atlanta roster: Scott Downs, a reliever and former pitcher for the University of Kentucky, where I began my career, working in sports information for the baseball team.
Scott was one of my favorite players, a freshman left-hander who set the SEC single-game record in strikeouts with 18. His next big start was against then-#1 LSU.
But then something very odd occurred. As we waited for our luggage in the Baton Rouge airport, he sat down next to me and took my hand. He was white as a ghost, sweating and generally looked hung over and miserable like some of his idiot teammates, except he didn’t drink. He didn’t want to tell the coaches he was sick, which, as we soon discovered when I went all “Mom” on him, was because his appendix had burst.
He spent that game in the hospital, where the LSU team (who kicked the crap out of us, and probably would have even if he had played) later visited him with a gift basket. He went on to be drafted, and is now 37 with three kids and a “dream come true” career, where he is thrilled “to get to go to work almost every night.” And I feel very old.
The Braves are burning up the National League right now, and as much as it pains me as a Nats fan, I am happy now to have a reason to pull for them. Thus today’s #WoofWednesday photo, courtesy of another Kentucky fan, Kathryn–her Chihuahua buddy Boo. Go Cats, go Nats, and go…OK, Braves too!
(Got fur-fan photos? Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org!)