Need to Neighbor

No one does it anymore, and I don’t know that we ever called it by that name. People just dropping by to visit. I had a strange, strong desire yesterday to “Go Neighboring.” My Grandmother Smith had a front room with a black leather couch which was reserved for neighboring. The room and the couch were always cold. There were ferns in the room. People would stop by on Sunday afternoon to neighbor. I suspect there were refreshments, but I don’t remember any specifics.

Yesterday, I wanted to visit that room with friends to “neighbor.” Better yet, I wanted to sit on the front porch or deck and neighbor. Sounds archaic, doesn’t it? “To “neighbor.” The longing yesterday was strong. If it had been warmer, I would have rented someone’s front porch.

Recently, a writer asked if you had one hour to sit on a porch or island and talk to one person, who would it be? A one-time deal? One chance—one person? I couldn’t decide, so I opted out of the game. I decided this morning: Mike Metheny, the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Jerry Jenkins has written 180 plus books. He wrote the Left Behind series and is one of the most sought after biographers of sports figures. His first sports biography was with Hank Aaron. Jenkins has worked with a ton of big-name players—I brag—I have some in my library. I heard an interview with Jenkins. He says that Metheney is not only the toughest man in baseball, he is also a gentleman with class, character and evangelical faith.

The Metheny Manifesto was published last month and is the number one sports book on Amazon.

Metheny was a catcher in the Bigs. He had no big league managing experience when the Cardinals hired him. There was concern that him being a “man of faith” would hinder his ability to deal with umpires. He does not swear. I have heard the one thing that will get a manager tossed is to address an umpire with any word connected to “you….” In his first managing year, he went out to argue with an umpire. They chatted a bit. Mike needed to get thrown out to show the team he was going to protect them. The ump wouldn’t toss him. Later in the game an umpire missed a call that looked like it was going to cost the Cardinals the game. Metheny went out and explained his displeasure with the call. Again, they chatted. The umpire finally said, “I’m finished talking about this—Mike we got it right.” Metheney told the ump he wasn’t finished and was going to stay on the field until either the call was reversed or he was asked to leave. The call was not reversed.

After the game, a coach that Metheny had been talking to about his faith, asked the manager if he was okay. He asked him if he had sword at the umpire, which is the magic ejection button. No, he had not sworn. He explained how it went down—“I’m going to stay on the field….” The coach said, “You’re the only manager in baseball history to get thrown out of a ballgame for loitering.”

I’m taking appointments for porch time—some place where I can loiter meaningfully.

Needing to Neighbor

©2015 D. Dean Benton

Writer, Wonderer, Loiterer

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