Fred G Davis Ohio Valley FFA Officers for 2016-17 named ACRMC Emergency Care Center renamed after Dr. Bruce Ashley West Union holds football Homecoming festivities First graders pick the Sheriff Cross honored by ODNR with the prestigious Cardinal Award Renowned Ohio artist visits WUHS Don and Venita Bowles named 2016 Outstanding Fair Supporters PES students part of new Lego League Ferno donates $2,500 to OVCTC From the cistern to the city water Basketball officiating class being offered in October Peebles rolls by West Union in straight sets Par for the course, Dragons sweep SHAC Golf titles Greyhounds hang on late for first win of 2016 season You have to understand the process to understand the job Alex K Miller Ann E Campbell Scott N Atkinson Senior Profile: Tyler Fowler Martin named to All-Tourney Team in North/South Battlefield Classic 200 years on the banks of the Ohio, in a little town called Moscow Edwin P Prince ACRMC Emergency Care Center renamed after Dr. Bruce Ashley Volleyball teams honor young cancer patient MHS honors veterans during pregame Kirker Covered Bridge gets a ‘Brown Goose’ facelift Adams County Heritage Days are Sept. 30-Oct. 1 Lady Devils prevail 1-0 over Peebles on Kickin’ Cancer Night Senior Profile: Patrick Baldwin Michael W Milby James R Grooms Sr. Fall Festival crowns Little Miss and Mister UPDATE: Pike County multiple murder Investigation; redacted autopsy reports released West Union Elementary names August Students of the Month SHAC streak continues for North Adams volleyball West Union volleyball picks up a pair of W’s Animal Shelter booth sees record crowds at Old Timer’s Day Festival Dragons top Manchester in Defender Bowl battle, 28-22 Senior Profile: Kendall Gallowitz Lady Dragons grab early lead in SHAC Tourney, final round is coming Friday Another Old Timer’s Days in the books and successful Run Gio Foundation to hold Oct. 1 benefit in Adams County Betty L Kelley Tom Cross, ACTVB Director, to receive ODNR Cardinal Award Seaman Fall Festival begins Wednesday, runs through Saturday Dragons still lead after two rounds of SHAC Golf, McCarty tops individual leader board Lady Dragons get SHAC win, downing Fayetteville 3-1 Overcoming obstacles, Pennywitt etches his name in MHS record books Dragons take first day lead in SHAC Golf Tourney New drug treatment offers more hope for recovering addicts Ronnie G Nace Lucille Wright Lois M Bixler Time to change those soccer rules Senior Profile: Hannah Grimes ‘Cruising up and down the main drag all night long’ Community effort erects town clock S Bridge to be replaced on Graces Run Road Senior Profile: Brittany Caldwell Lady Dragons break ACCC course record Dragons roll in county gridiron battle Down to last play, Hounds fall in heartbreaker I never won, but those lawn games were special times Donnie Austin Shari R Hiltibran Bentonville hosts 40th Annual Harvest Festival West Union soccer teams sweep Williamsburg, St. Patrick “Rockin” the mats again Senior Profile: Brittany Caldwell Sylvester Mefford Local teens selected to State 4-H Teen Leadership Council Connect with Serpent Mound over Old Timer’s Days Guthrie to speak about pests and diseases in beekeeping Old Timers Days Festival Cornhole Tournament is this week Defender Bowl coming Thursday Bentonville Harvest Festival holds Toddler Pageants 40th Anniversary Bentonville Harvest Festival hosts Baby Show 9/11 Reminds Us That We Are All Americans Lady Dragons are 2016 County Cup winners Bob Birchfield Senior Profile: Ryan Henderson Dragons take JV golf match Another rough night for Greyhounds, Notre Dame rolls to big win Remembering 9/11-15 years later Hughes honored at GABP Concussions and Youth Sports Roberta Newman to retire after more than 46 years at First State Bank Reaching out to the Baton Rouge flood victims Bentonville Harvest Festival celebrates its 40th anniversary Fire it up! Annual Jr. Fair BBQ cooks up another savory fare Lady Indians take down Whiteoak in four sets Senior Profile: Zack Best Greyhounds produce three winners at the 2016 Dragon Run Lady Hounds win in five sets at West Union Teresa Houdeshell Rosa Grooms Roy C Shiveley Mathew R Potts Staggs and Louiso to visit nation’s capital
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The photo that took 12 years to take

I needed a vacation. It had been four years since I had any extended time away from work so I decided that this spring might be a good time to take on a trip that I have thought about for years. When I was a youngster, my parents took me to spring training in Florida every year (check the first column I ever wrote for this paper) and I have been debating a long time doing the same for my son. If I waited until I could actually afford it, we’d probably both be too old to enjoy it, so it was time to bite the bullet, make a little money off Ebay for the trip, and head south.

It’s no secret that my son is a huge New York Mets fan and that pretty much determined our destination. The Mets train in Port St. Lucie, Florida and after a Thursday morning flight out of Cincinnati, we found ourselves in the Orlando airport, renting a car and making the 90-minute drive towards the home of the Mets. Now before I continue, let me ask one thing about airline flights these days. I hadn’t flown for nearly 10 years so what’s up with the male stewardesses? Is that some kind of reverse equality thing?

After dinner at a sports bar the first night, of course, we made plans for the next morning and the trip to camp. I soon found out that spring training has changed considerably since the 1970s. I guess it is security, but access to players is nothing like it was in the good old days, but we didn’t let that deter us. You could watch the team’s morning workouts from behind a fence no more than 50 feet away so that wasn’t all bad. We then drove to a place called Viera, spring training home of the Washington Nationals, where I found out another 2016 training fact-the “star” players don’t make too many game appearances. Example-Bryce Harper batted once, took five pitches, was called out on strikes and disappeared. Likely had a golf game or a yacht trip on the agenda.

The next morning we were back at workouts and then to a Mets home game with the dastardly Cardinals in a packed stadium. I commented to Jordan that these Mets had gone from being nobodies a couple of years ago to rock stars now. There’s something oddly relaxing about just sitting back at a spring training game. Players seem to have much more fun with nothing really on the line and the minor leaguers trying to make the jump are interesting to watch.

All that was good and well, but in the back of my mind I was on this trip to try and make a dream come true for my son. If you have read previous columns, you know that his baseball hero and favorite player is David Wright so I was scheming the whole time to figure out a way to have Jordan meet #5, because I knew that would be his magic moment and one he would remember for a lifetime.

Well, when we went to the Sunday morning workout, I saw our opportunity. On normal days, the “regular” players take their batting and fielding practice inside the stadium, which is off limits to the public, another ridiculous change from the 70s. That meant that Wright would be out on the practice fields all morning and since there was not a real big crowd of fans I knew we had a shot, so as we watched the team loosen up, I told Jordan that we were following Wright wherever he went.

Unfortunately, Jordan took that a bit too literally when we spotted #5 heading into the bathroom. The day before I had actually had a nice conversation with one of the team’s top prospects in, yep you guessed it, the bathroom, so Jordan asked the security guard if he could go get a drink from a fountain that was of course, adjacent to the potty. He made it just as Wright was exiting so all he managed was quick “What’s up” as #5 headed to the field.

All the time I am taking a good look at the surroundings and figuring out how Wright was going to get from one place to the next and I placed Jordan on a sidewalk that led from one field to another where he managed to get a fist bump from #5 as he moved to a different field. I then heard Wright tell a young lady that he would sign autographs as soon as he got his running in and I knew that the magic moment was close. so again I put Jordan in a strategic spot and I was absolutely right.

When Wright exited the field, there was Jordan waiting for him and asking him to sign his baseball. I knew that wouldn’t be the end of it so I began to back away and get my camera ready for the picture that a kid had been waiting 12 years to get. I couldn’t mess this one up because I knew there may never be another chance. Luckily, the bright Florida sky provided the perfect lighting and there it was, my son standing next to his baseball hero and I had to capture the moment and baby I nailed it! In that brief moment, I took the best picture I have ever taken in my life and in a few fleeting seconds felt like the “Father of the Year.” Finally, Jordan meets David Wright and we have the photographic evidence. (On top of that, Wright even signed a baseball card for me.)

That is the neat thing about baseball, it can always be a father and son shared experience and I will never forget the four days that I was able to take Jordan to his baseball heaven on earth and I was able to capture the moment that had been 12 years in the making. It was him and his hero, though I hope that maybe I got a little bit of hero in his eyes out of that one. In “The Lion King,” they sing about the “Circle of Life” and one was completed for me last weekend. From my Dad and me to my son and me, it just never gets any better than that.

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Mark Carpenter

Sports Editor

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2016 People's Defender