Roy Exum: ‘Up For A Catch With Me?‘

Thursday, April 26, 2012 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Jeremy Guthrie, a professional baseball player for the Colorado Rockies, was in a spot several weeks ago. It was April 10, an off day for the club, and the pitcher was supposed to meet teammate Tyler Chatwood at Coors Field to throw the ball around some. That’s right, good players throw every day and Jeremy had planned on about 45 minutes to keep his right arm limber.

When he arrived at the clubhouse, Chatwood had bailed on him and there was nobody else around so Guthrie, an Eagle Scout long before he starred for Stanford in college, decided he would “Twitter” the 34,000 or so fans that keep track of his moves: “Anybody on lunch break & up for a catch with me?”

Are you kidding? Half of Denver would have given their right leg for the chance to twirl the rock with the Rockies’ star so, within minutes, a 21-year-old who had just gotten home from the doctor – Woody Roseland -- fired back a note: “My man! I’m downtown and I have my glove.

Let’s do this!”

Guthrie asked when Tyler could get there and got an immediate response “ … like 15 minutes!” Woody grabbed his mitt and ran out into the street, flagging a cab. “Take me to Coors Field!” he yelled at the cabbie and the driver looked over to say, “Nope … no game today … ” Tyler glared back, “I don’t care! Please just get me to Coors quick!”

The kid jumped from the cab and, after anxiously trying to find a way inside the shuttered stadium, was led by a security guard through a dark labyrinth of pipes and ductwork beneath the stadium to an oasis – the Rockies’ clubhouse; a plush, thick-carpeted land of lockers and uniforms where wide-screen TVs, a snack bar and dazzling features included the now-lonesome pitcher, Jeremy Guthrie.

Let me tell you what Guthrie saw. His invited guest had no hair, not even any eyebrows. His eyes were shrunken and his skin pale. The right pants leg of his jeans flapped a little due to the full-leg prosthetic that Roseland has worn since he was first diagnosed with a childhood sarcoma. Since then Woody’s had four other relapses with cancer, the latest involving his lung.

But, hey, nobody is ever sick at the ball yard! After all, earlier in the day Woody Roseland was at the doctor’s office and the nurse said his numbers looked so good he didn’t need to come back for awhile. So the big leaguer shook his new Twitter friend’s hand and asked what was the deal. “I lost it to cancer … I was 16.”

Guthrie nods towards the field and the two start throwing. Actually, Guthrie lined up Woody in front of a wall, in case there was a miss or two, but soon -- with Woody wearing a grin bigger than the “dish” at home – the Rockies pitcher was teaching him to throw a slider from 90 feet out.

Guthrie let Woody take some swings with a bat and, as the two embraced their luck, they started talking about this and that. The pitcher, who has  three kids of his own, asked about Woody’s rough fight and Woody shook it away, “You just sort of deal with it.”

What Guthrie didn’t know was that his 21-year-old is a sensational spokesperson for cancer projects, that he is a fledgling motivational speaker and a “rookie” of sorts as a comedian. “Being a cancer amputee is like being a really hot girl. Everybody sends you flowers and cards. And they stare all the time. And I’m like, ‘Hello? I’m not just a piece of meat … my eyes are up here, thank you!’”

Soon Jeremy Guthrie couldn’t believe his luck – never mind that Woody’s just gotten the green light at the hospital after a full two and a half years on “chemo” and Tweeted his way onto Coors Field within a four-hour period. “I’m just like ‘Wow! This is how the cards are being dealt today … cool!”

Well, it doesn’t end there. Woody’s been to several Rockies games, always sitting with Guthrie’s wife, and Tim Tebow (who used to be the Denver quarterback) even flew Woody to Florida for a celebrity golf tournament where Bubba Watson let him swing the pink driver that won at Augusta. A whole lot of other cool stuff has happened.

That’s just the way luck works. Sometimes a guy innocently asks, “Anybody on lunch break & up for a catch with me?” and the next thing you know “he’s drinking from the saucer ‘cause his cup has overflowed.”

That's exactly what happened with Jeremy Guthrie and Woody Roseland. And today they are pals.

royexum@aol.com


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