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'Farewell to a Friend' by Paul Galop

02/28/2009 8:59 AM

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Commissioner’s Corner – Special Edition
“Farewell to a Friend”

Winter 0f 2009

(Editor’s Note: Normally these articles are provided during the pre-season, mid-season and post-season. 
This special edition is dedicated to the life of our friend John Wylde).

     As I peruse through this year’s players contracts, the updating of our CCBL Handbook and GM Meeting notes, my mind constantly drifts to the fond memories of being fortunate enough to have met, worked with and befriended John Wylde. 

     Let’s forget about baseball for a few minutes and talk about the man. The consummate gentleman who had nothing but kind words and virtuous guidance for every person he met, John found time for anyone and everyone, regardless of their position in life or where they were in the lineup of reality. No question or topic was bothersome or meaningless. John displayed undivided attention to one and all. I observed this behavior and enjoyed the benefits of his wisdom, experience and unparalleled integrity. John’s passion, attention to detail and willingness to share his vision were daily habits that few can boast about. Many of us could only hope to be students in his classroom of life learning about those envied characteristics. John was the professor, and there will never be a substitute teacher with those credentials. If you were one of his “students”, you were blessed. If you never took one of his “classes”, your education may never be absolutely complete.

     I think if John were a professional baseball player, he probably would not have been a pitcher, or if he were he may have struggled. Why? Because John only had one pitch, and it was always the straight stuff, right down the middle. No curveballs from John. No sliders, no splitters, no knuckleballs and absolutely nothing in the dirt. He was clean and straight forward with all the cards on the table with no confusion. How refreshing in a time in our history when so many marginal characters and firms are causing a fragile economy. 

     So where do we go from here? What do you do when you’ve lost someone who is irreplaceable in life? Baseball games will go on. The CCBL will continue to thrive as the finest summer collegiate baseball league in the USA, thanks greatly to visionaries like John, and other wonderful volunteers will feverishly try to to pick up the pieces and follow in John’s footsteps that he would be so proud of. There will never be comparisons about this is how John would have done it because that is exactly what John would not want. It’s all about the behavior, the integrity, the ethics and the right stuff. Doing the right things for the right reasons will yield Wylde-like standards. The results will take care of themselves. They did for John, and they will for all of us. 

     I was fortunate enough to spend many quality visits with John at his home in the waning months. He was so pleased to talk baseball, read cards from hundreds upon hundreds of well wishers, and reflect upon how successful the CCBL and his beloved Wareham Gatemen were. He participated greatly in guiding us through the planning of the transition period for his successor, which quickly became a plural noun as it will take a team of people to scratch upon the surface of John’s contributions and daily performance. But in typical John fashion, he has personally orchestrated that plan which cannot and will not fail. We will not allow that in memory and dedication to him. 

     The day after John’s passing I had a nice chat with his wife Patty. I told her that I had an unusual question for her after thinking so long about John. Upon asking the quirky question, Patty responded that John wore a size 15 shoe. I told her that I figured it to be in that very large range. When she asked me why, I replied that there is an expression that when you need to somehow replace someone, the phrase is that those will be big shoes to fill. We both understood the analogy and softly agreed. You do not need to be a math major to understand the meaning. Somewhere in that special press box in the sky there is a very big man awkwardly and humbly grinning about that discussion. I hope he is enjoying his hot dogs and Pepsi because we all know he deserves that, and so much more!

     Godspeed John!

Paul A. Galop, Commissioner