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Home » Everything I say reminds me of something else

Michael Collins, RIP

Submitted by on April 2, 2014 – 10:25 pm

Here’s an article I originally wrote two years ago. I remember quite clearly standing in the concourse at the Corn Crib, up beyond the seats behind home plate. Next to me was Jim Collins, who had come over to watch the balance of the game after attending to his own Normal University High School team.

The bond between father and son was strong. Baseball was just another tie. Jim had coached at U-High before Michael got to high school. As soon as Michael reached the high school ranks, Jim moved over to Normal West High School to assist long time head coach Chris Hawkins. When Michael graduated and headed over to Heartland Community College to play for Nate Metzger, Jim accepted the head coaching position at U-High.

I had the privilege of coaching my own son and know both the pride and frustration that is tied up in that package. But there’s something special about the bond that is forged in baseball. Kids that don’t share your blood or your name become like sons. You share with your own sons the dreams, frustration, disappointment, and passion that is the game of baseball.

As I stood next to Jim that night two years ago at the Corn Crib, I felt the anxiety that emanated from behind the very stoic Collins exterior as Michael came to bat. The game of baseball can be a continual heartbreak, but as I mentioned in my original story, there’s always a chance for redemption. Michael got his shot at redemption and came through. Jim managed a smile.

Original story posted April 26, 2012

by Jack Warren, CornbeltBaseball.com editor

I stumbled across a web site called Gambit and a blog posting titled, “On Failure: Baseball’s Theology of Redemption”, in which I found the following:

“Out of constant failure emerged a rhetoric of redemption in baseball. A long game, usually played in long seasons, batters will often get 4-5 at bats in a game and at the professional level as many as 500+ at bats over the course of the season. Baseball is a game of second, and third and fourth chances. Many of the mythologized histories in the American game are about redemption.”

I often think of this as baseball is such a hard game to play and one that is never really mastered. One has to get over the failures in order to be in a position to succeed.

Hawks congratulate Collins after game winner

This was brought to mind on Wednesday night as I watched the last few innings of the game between Heartland Community College and Lincoln College. Heartland had already lost game one and had trailed much of game two. The Hawks had two runners on and two out when Michael Collins came to bat. The Lincoln coach brought in his shortstop to face Collins who, to that point, was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts. In fact, Collins has struggled most of the season, batting right around .150.

I had been chatting with Jim Collins, Normal U-High coach and father of Michael Collins, before Michael came to bat. When he stepped into the box, Jim said just loud enough for the two of us to hear, “Michael, hit the first pitch. It’ll be the best one you see.” Collins promptly laced the first pitch through the left side for the game winning hit.


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