The Bottom Line

Headliner News sports editor Jeff Kessinger took his turn playing catch with Springfield author Ethan Bryan Jan. 24. Bryan is trying to play a game of catch with somebody every single day in 2018. Follow is progress by following him on Twitter, @Ethan_Bryan, or visiting whisperedwriting.wordpress.com.

It’s entirely possible I violated some law or ordinance Jan. 24. But this was one of those cases where I think it was fine to ask forgiveness instead of permission. After all, I was just helping a friend.

If you were on the square in Ozark that day, you would’ve seen me playing catch with a friend of mine I made at church. His name is Ethan Bryan, and chances are you may have heard of him by now. He’s been featured on the websites of both ABC News and Major League Baseball as he pursues his goal of playing catch every single day in 2018. Jan. 24 was my turn.

Ethan, you see, doesn’t love baseball like most of us love baseball. He is not merely an obsessed Kansas City Royals fan, he is also an author of several baseball-related projects. There’s “Dreamfield,” a novel about baseball, faith and time travel he recently published. The main character in that story, by the way, bears an uncanny resemblance to Ethan. And there’s “Striking out ALS: A Hero’s Tale,” written about former Glendale High School coach Howard Bell.

There’s also “America At The Seams,” a project he did with Nathan Rueckert, an artist from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Nathan also doesn’t love baseball like most of us love baseball. He’s given 8,000 old baseballs new life with his hand-crafted works of art. “America At The Seams” paired their passion with their talents.

Nathan made a 5-foot-wide map of the United States made completely of old baseballs. Each state in the union is made from baseballs obtained from that state. Bryan wrote baseball-related stories about each state. “Baseball,” Ethan loves to say, “tells the best stories.”

The project took Ethan and Nathan all the way to Cooperstown, New York, where Ethan got to present some of those stories at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Ethan’s baseball connections helped him snag an invitation to the White House in 2016 to watch President Barack Obama honor the Kansas City Royals — Ethan’s favorite team since childhood — for winning the World Series. It’s a pretty incredible story, which he tells much better than I do.

“Baseball brings people together,” is another thing Ethan loves to say. He’s proving that one with his daily game of catch, which — by the time you read this — should be one month old. Scanning the list of his catch partners so far, it’s hard to argue.

Besides me, there’s Missouri Sports Hall of Fame broadcaster Art Hains, former Clever High School baseball player Chandler Maples, Headliner News contributor Alec McChesney and another interesting character I met at church, Joshua Kennedy.

While his day job is teacher, Joshua has also dabbled in hip-hop music and the video for his song BYOMB, a tribute to Kansas City barbecue, caught the attention of media outlets like the Kansas City Star in 2014. BYOMB, by the way, stands for Bring Your Own Man Bib.

The weather was gorgeous on the day Ethan and I played catch. The sun was shining, the breeze was light and there was no need for a winter coat. He’s played on snow fields and even managed to get in 25 throws in a three-minute game of catch on a day the temperature was 0 degrees and the wind chill was -15. Ethan isn’t going to let a little cold get in the way of accomplishing his goal.

If you want to keep up with Ethan’s quest to play catch every day in 2018, you can follow him on Twitter by following @Ethan_Bryan and searching for the hashtag #Catch365. You can also visit his blog, whisperedwriting.wordpress.com.

You can contact Ethan through his blog or Twitter account if you want to join in. I promise you the stories and the exercise are worth the time. Just make sure you’re playing somewhere you’re allowed to play.

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