A Special Contribution from Founder and CEO, Jamie Kelly
Last night, a massive crowd gathered at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth to celebrate the life of the late Richard Durrett, and to raise money for his wife, Kelly, and their children.
The guest list was a who’s-who of Dallas/Fort Worth sports; Michael Young, Derek Holland, Marty Turco, Jon Daniels, and Randy Galloway are among the many who helped to make the night special. The volunteer army assembled by Emily Jones, of which I was a part, was energetic and efficient. The live auction, powered by Anthony Andro, Chuck Morgan and John Rhadigan, was electric.
Many people will surely write about the event in the coming days, but one particular interaction struck me so profoundly that it will stay with me for a long time.
One of my duties for the night was to sell raffle tickets. The raffle was quite incredible! We sold 100 tickets at $50 each, and the first ticket drawn allowed the winner to choose ANY item from the live or silent auction. ANY ITEM. On a night when trips, memorabilia, tickets and more were up for grabs, this truly was a mind-blowing proposition.
The first ticket I sold was to a man who appeared to be at the event by himself. We talked through all of the possibilities and odds, and he asked me what he should choose in the event that his ticket was chosen. Without hesitation, I advised that he choose the trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, including airfare and hotel. That was, in my opinion, the top prize of the night and an experience of a lifetime.
He didn’t seem to really know much about Cooperstown, but he said that he trusted me. Of course, it’s easy to have this kind of trust in a stranger when you don’t think that you’re going to win. It’s akin to spending your lottery winnings in your head before you’ve even acquired your ticket. I told him that I’d be his good luck charm, he smiled, and we dropped his ticket in the jar.
Lo and behold, the first ticket drawn for the grand prize in the raffle belonged to HIM. The lonely stranger. I ran to greet him at the stage as they verified his ticket number, and once they made sure the winning ticket was his, he quickly and confidently said, “I choose Cooperstown!”
About an hour later, when the first round of the auction was over, I saw him standing by himself near the bar. I approached him to congratulate him one more time, and he looked up at me with a solemn expression and said, “My wife died yesterday. She had been ill for a long time. Maybe this was a sign.” He seemed so bewildered in that moment. He seemed to be struggling with balancing his grief with his wonder if she had somehow been there with him, helping him to find a glimmer of happiness. We talked for another 10-15 minutes about his wife, and about Cooperstown, before I had to get back to my duties at the live auction. I didn’t see him again.
I will be thinking about the lonely stranger next summer when Hall of Fame time rolls around again. And every day until then.
Jamie Kelly is the Founder and CEO of The Scoop. Follow her on Twitter at @JamieSportsTalk.