Yesterday afternoon, I learned that my Uncle Conrad had died after a long, long battle with emphysema. Truth be told, it’s remarkable he lived this long: back in 1993, he underwent an experimental surgery, where the holes in his lungs were patched with pieces of a pig’s heart. He was given a best case scenario of living an additional three years. As you can all tell, he did quite a bit better than three years.
He was one of those people who truly never seemed to have a bad day in his life. Even when he would be hooked up to an oxygen tank, his wit and sharp sense of humor were never touched by his illness. He was one of those people who everybody liked, and one of the biggest regrets I’ll ever have is that my soon-to-be fiancee (she doesn’t read the blog, so I can type that) never got a chance to meet him.
And I promised to make this baseball-related – when Connie was younger, he played baseball. While he was never going to even sniff pitching in the pros, he did face somebody who went on to have a modest amount of success on my favorite baseball team. It was the only future big leaguer he would face, but in a game, Connie found himself facing then-future-Yankee Elston Howard. And he struck him out on three straight pitches. Elston went on to play in the Bronx, while Connie went on to farm, but it still amazes me that their paths crossed in a baseball game, and my uncle came out ahead.
So, in honor or my uncle, I would love to get my hands on some Elston Howard cards. I know he had a memorabilia card put out in the 2008 SP Legendary Cuts set, and I’m not sure if he has any autographs out there, or not. But if anyone has any Howards they would want to trade, email or leave me a comment about who you collect, and I’ll see if I can track something down for you in exchange. They would be a great addition to my collection, but even more so, a great way to have a memory of Uncle Connie remain with me forever.
When you get a chance today, hug a loved one a little tighter, and make sure they know what they mean to you.
We’ll miss you Connie – you had a longer run than you should have, and we’re all grateful for that.