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That Tornado...Then A Bomb Scare...Spring Training

Mar 4 | Posted by: Bill Whyte |

Hello Wednesday morning from the land of cactus and desert.



I had a direct flight from Nashville to Phoenix at 6 AM Nashville time yesterday that was uneventful and welcomed after the horrific tornado that has ripped a lot of Music City apart.  My heart goes out to all those back home that were not as fortunate as my wife and I were Monday night.  Our phones blew up with texts, and call, and online e-mails and notes.  Thanks to everyone who reached out.  We knew the tornado was close to our house and we were hunkered down in a hallway hoping for the best.  And before our power shut off and disconnected us from the world and the weather folks we had a pretty good feeling that we might get hit. Just the tone of the weather folks on air pleading for folks to take cover had a lot more urgency than I’d heard before.  And now we know why.  22, 23, 24 dead and counting.  And some were living so close to where we live. Business places, schools, homes, many of them gone.  Our local schools will be closed for awhile.  Donelson Christian School where friends of our have had kids?  That school was completely flattened…maybe 5 miles away from us.


So, I had booked this baseball trip to Phoenix for Spring Training weeks earlier and had I not had reservations paid for I would have waited for another time to go.  The good news is we got power back to our house yesterday and I had figured we might be without power for many days considering the damage all around us.  Thank you to those hard working utility folks.  They’re not getting a lot of sleep right now.  And now that my wife Kathy has electric back on…I’ll start to enjoy this trip to the desert a little more. 


I think Kathy and I realized how close the tornado was to us from the amount of folks trying to reach both of us to see if we were okay. Sometimes your better off not knowing how close a tornado was.  And now the entire state of Tennessee is under a state of emergency.  The pictures show you why.  38 people are still missing in one county. The great thing about Nashville is you’re going to see a ton of fundraisers and donations coming in and many will come from fund raising concerts from our hillbilly stars.  And again, my thoughts to out to all those who lost so much from this unreal storm.



My plane landed early, and the folks at the hotel I reserved were nice enough to get me into my room early too.  I was on fumes yesterday because of having no sleep from the tornado night back home but I was out the hotel door to Talking Stick Resort & Baseball Park in Scottsdale about 30 minutes from the house.  My Reds did not have a game yesterday so I went to my favorite park and caught some of the Cubs & Rockies.  This stadium is like a mini-major league park that hosts the Arizona Diamond Back & Colorado Rockies Spring Training games each year.  Cactus pop up over the centerfield wall for crying out loud.  I always tell folks who come out here for baseball not to miss this park even if the team they root for plays somewhere else.


So I’m sitting in the stands in the sun watching the game unfold when I get a text from a longtime friend Monique Henry who wanted to know if I wanted a free ticket to see a second game that night?  Yes I did.  Monique had seen my pictures of the ballpark I was in on Facebook and extended the invitation.  I didn’t know she and her hubby was in town…what a nice surprise.


I got to know Monique and her husband Doug Henry in Milwaukee when I was doing a morning radio show for WMIL.  I'm a big baseball fan, they are both big country music fans so we connected and have remained friends since.


Doug was the closer for the Brewers at the time.  He went on to pitch for the Giants, Mets, Astros and Kansas City.  These days he’s a minor league pitching coach for the Royals for a team in North Arkansas.  But for Spring Training he works with the Major Leaguers with the Royals team.  AND he got his World Series ring just a few years ago when he was the bullpen coach for the Royals against the New York Mets.  So, Monique arranged for me to meet her at the Royals Park last night and that’s when I wound up in a dang BOMB SCARE.



I’m pretty sure I’ve never gone from a tornado warning to a bomb scare all in one day.  But that’s what happened yesterday.  When I pulled up the ballpark that’s home to the Royals and Texas Rangers in Surprise, Arizona Monique calls to tell me not to hurry because the place is shut down for a bomb scare!  I could see that from all the police lights around the park. Dogs were sniffing and security and police were all over the ballpark. Except those that already had pre-purchased tickets?  Nobody was allowed in.  And the game got delayed for an hour.  The good news from that was it gave Doug some time to come get me and Monique and we went in through a back gate and sat down behind the centerfield scoreboard and caught up on each other’s lives.  They are grandparents now…5 grandkids!  Geez.  And Doug still loves the games and working with the young pitchers, many of them who have become big league pitchers over the years.  Monique was an athlete when she was young and loves the game and can “talk” the game.  So for a guy like me who loves baseball?  Ya can’t beat spending some time with folks like that. They’ve just had a great life chasing baseball all around the country and they’re still doing it.



I saw no masks on nobody at our airport or on the plane from Nashville to Phoenix but man did they have plenty of open seats.  Some of that was from the trouble folks surely had trying to get to the airport (just like me) because of closed roads from the damage the tornado brought.  But travel is most surely down and some of it is because of the coronavirus that now has claimed 9 American lives.  If you’re not fearful…you can save a lot of money on a trip. Cough in your sleeve, wash your hands folks.


I also read that some stadiums and arenas are empty because of the fear.  I have not seen that here in Arizona so far.  The stadiums have been full. 



Carrie Underwood says her diet is 45% carbs.  So, if you want to look like Carrie Underwood?  Don’t sit in a baseball park with a hot dog and beer.  I have no chance of ever looking like Carrie Underwood.  And for that the world can be grateful. FYI…Carrie Underwood and her family got into a safe room during the tornado.  Even country stars were hunkered down hoping for the best.



I’ve become enough of a hi-tech redneck that I can now download movies on my iPad and I did that for this trip.  I watched two on the flight and that made the almost 4 hour flight go pretty fast. 


The two I chose, one from Netflix one from Prime is a golf movie I’d not seen with Robert Duvall and Lucas Black where Duvall’s character helps get the young golfer focused in “Seven Days In Utopia”.  It’s not Academy Award stuff, but if you like golf or Robert Duvall?  You’ll like this.


The second movie was the retelling of the Bonnie & Clyde story starring Kevin Costner & Woody Harrelson in “Highwaymen”.  Again, these are two actors I always enjoy watching but I will say that the pace of this one is REALLY slow.  And you sort of know how it’s going to end.  So, don’t know that I’d recommend this one. 



As I’m typing the last of this blog this morning it’s a little after 6:30 in Arizona and it’s still dark.  But the forecast is calling for nary a cloud and a high temperature of 75.  Perfect for sitting in the stands for a 1 pm game today to root on my Reds team in Goodyear, Arizona this afternoon as they take on the Cubs.  Play ball.


Have a great Wednesday.





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