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Going for Two

You’re familiar with the term and its implications. The baseball team that intentionally walks an opposing batter with first base open, in hopes of turning a double play; the basketball team choosing to pass up the three-point shot to feed the ball to its big man closer to the basket; or the football team deciding to keep its kicker on the sideline after a touchdown, electing instead to try for the two-point conversion. It’s sports terminology that even the casual fan understands.

Not all the terminology used in the sporting world is easily understood by all, and sometimes the meaning of words used change with time. Such is the case with one sport’s vernacular — the “injured list,” which has recently hit a member of the home team. Beginning in 1887, MLB had used the term “disabled list” to signify a player who was unable to play. In 2019, that term was discontinued by MLB and replaced with the more accurate “injured list” description.

I hope you can accept the nepotism, but today’s column is strictly personal. The Lowery team has had to shuffle its lineup a bit the past few weeks as our MVP, wife Jean, has found her name placed upon the “injured list,” and she did it as a result of making the decision of “going for two.”

For the past several years, she has been a “gamer” going about her daily routine in championship form. There have been many occasions when the manager wanted to put in a pinch-runner, but she would have none of that and continued her consecutive game streak. While she didn’t come close to challenging Cal Ripken’s 2,632 game streak achieved over 16 MLB seasons, her continued gritty performances were noticed by friends and family.

Finally, after numerous injections, a few stints with a cane, and a strong desire to once again enjoy pain-free days, she took herself out of the lineup and bravely “went for two.” Only this action didn’t take place on the playing field, rather in the operating room, as on September 29, she underwent double-knee replacement surgery. The decision wasn’t done without some trepidation. But, talks with those who had previously had the same surgery, with one knee or two, formulated her choice to have both knees done at the same time.

I am happy to report that the surgery was completed without any complications. She is nearing completion of her physical therapy and is happy to have the procedures behind her. Just as few get to see what a recovering ballplayer goes through to get themselves back into his/her team’s lineup, Jean’s behind-the-scenes regimen has been determined and ongoing. She is a genuine trooper and the entire Lowery team, especially me, is very proud of her.

I’d like to take this public moment to thank the many well-wishers that have contacted us the past few weeks. Your cards, flowers, phone calls, visits, and the food you graciously delivered to the house have all been greatly appreciated. Many of you have gone through thorny times with a loved one, many much more difficult and longer-lasting than Jean’s “injured list” stay, but the kind actions of others are always treasured.

Although not a gifted athlete in her younger days, since signing on with team Lowery, she has been the classic utility player able to fill in wherever needed. She has coached Little League softball, where she guided her team (Roto-Rooter) to the league’s first championship and managed the first-ever Little Mountaineer softball all-star team. She was my teammate for several years as we operated a home-based business venture called Sports Score Service. Since 1987 she has been the official scorer for the South Williamsport Junior High basketball program. She has been a road warrior, accompanying me to complete my “bucket list” of attending MLB games in all the league’s 30 stadiums. We’ve been to a wide variety of NBA, NFL, and college games, and she’s juggled numerous family schedules to accommodate my many years of coaching.

“Taking one for the team” is a term sometimes used in baseball parlance when a player gets painfully hit by a pitched ball to give his team a needed base runner. Jean has “taken many for the team,” for which she often doesn’t get the recognition she deserves. Hopefully, her stay on the injury list will soon be completed, and she’ll be back in the game helping others.

As we left her first physical therapy session a week following surgery, a woman spotting her bandaged knees asked, “Did you have both knees replaced at the same time?”

Replying that she did, the woman said, “Oh, I wish I had done that. I wanted to but wasn’t brave enough to do it.”

“Going for two” wasn’t at the top of Jean’s wish list, but by doing so, she’ll be back in the game soon.

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