East Beauregard Trojans seniors of 2007. Back L to R: Michael Maddox, Richie McKay, Terry Iles,
Front Brady Glaser, Kyle Burk, Tyler Adams
They’ll bury Michael Maddox this morning. He’ll be wearing his Atlanta Braves cap and shirt.
It may seem shallow talking about baseball when a young man has died.
But baseball was the strongest rope that tied my heart to the Maddox family.
Like us, Robert and Debbie Maddox raised their three sons, Cody, Michael, and Matthew in the Dry Creek communityl.
I taught Debbie (Scott) at East Beauregard and first met Robert Maddox as he visited Debbie at our school. As assistant principal, it was my job running off people who just showed up at our school. Robert was there to see Debbie and even as I encouraged him to leave, I fell in love with him. He was my kind of country young man, soft-spoken,polite, solid, with a kind rural smile.
Robert and Debbie married and made their home near East Beauregard School.
Their middle son Michael was a classmate of our son Terry from KG to high school graduation.
But Michael was more than a classmate, he was a teammate.
I would estimate to watching Michael and Terry Iles play well over 100 baseball games. It started in T-ball and went through their senior year of high school in 2007.
Being a former coach and left-hander, I joyfully watched Michael’s beautiful left-handed swing. It was a natural swing that drove the ball hard. He was also a very good pitcher, where Left-handers have a tremendous advantage in pitching.
My favorite story on Michael’s pitching occurred when he was in middle school. He pitched a masterful game against a DeRidder team. I found his father Robert after the game. I couldn’t decide whether to say, “Michael pitched a whale of a game” or “Michael pitched a heck of a game.”
So I hybridized the two words and blurted out, “Michael pitched a hell of a game.”
Robert did a quick double take, then said, “Well, I guess he did.”
Michael was killed last Saturday in a car accident along with his girlfriend, Amber Borel. I also taught Amber’s parents, Shane and Tammy Wilber.
Our community is grieving.
Our school is grieving.
Our church is grieving. Both families attended Dry Creek Baptist Church, where the funerals will be held over the next two days.
I know the Maddox and Wilber families would so appreciate your prayer.
Pray for our Dry Creek pastors, Charlie Bailey and John Gray, as they lead these two difficult funerals.
Talking about baseball seems trite when death comes to two young people. But the game of baseball was the glue that bonded me to both families.*
We shared bleachers, rainouts, sore arms, joyful wins and sorrowful losses.
Baseball was the bridge that allowed our hearts to be connected and friendships to deepen. It led to opportunities to share openly about our faith and hope in Jesus.
That is the faith and hope these grieving families are leaning on.
It was only appropriate that Michael Maddox will be buried in his Atlanta Braves gear. He was a faithful fan.
For me, he’ll always be a young man of seventeen with a beautiful swing to go along with a beautiful smile.
*Shane and Tammy Wilber are two of our closest friends. Shane was an all-state pitcher for our East Beauregard teams of the mid-1980’s.