The Abrams felt a ton of civic pride after finishing up a very busy volunteer day at Signal Rock. After packing up their wheelbarrow, rakes, and other equipment, Tyler went back to the bleachers to retrieve the baseball trophies TJ had landed on. He found TJ looking at the trophies and reading the inscriptions on the plaques. Although a bit faded, TJ could still make out the words. “Noel Roby, Junior Police, 3rd Place, W 12 – L 10, 1984” and “Wickford Little League All Star, 1981” and TJ had found a third one while his parents were packing up the car. It read “Noel Roby, Grand Slam, July 6, 1984, Junior Police vs Short Circuits.” TJ caught his father staring at him as he read the name and the accomplishments of this player. “Can we keep these trophies and maybe try to find this Noel Roby person?” Tyler thought for a moment and then agreed to bring them home and then try to find their rightful owner.
The following Sunday morning, after lining the trophies up on the floor, Tyler took a few photos and recorded the inscriptions on a notepad. At the top of the notepad read “Who is Noel Roby?” and then a few notes about where the trophies were found, their inscriptions, years notated, etc. Tyler had a few pieces of information already and was feeling very confident that the trophies would get back to their rightful owner in no time at all. In short order and with the permission of the league, he uploaded the photos to the North Kingstown/Wickford Little League Facebook page along with his plea to find Noel Roby and return the trophies to him. With TJ and Elsa standing behind his comfortable office chair, Tyler looked back at his son and wife and said “Let’s see where this goes” and clicked “Post.”
The first responses came in later that evening following the Patriots win. Tyler and TJ had gone back to Signal Rock for the afternoon to scope around the field for more stuff but came up empty. They returned to catch the second half of the Patriots victory and then Tyler logged onto his home computer to check out how the investigation was going. He read responses stating that Noel Roby was still in town, a former North Kingstown Wickford Little League volunteer and coach, and was an active baseball writer. A few offered assistance on contacting him, including the league’s information officer. Tyler shared the news with Elsa and TJ and was very pleased to think that his family was going to do a good deed, especially around the holidays.
The league’s information officer gave Tyler Noel’s email address – firstname.lastname@example.org – and wished him good luck. Monday morning, Tyler crafted an email introducing himself and his family, the situation by which he found the trophies, attached the photos, and provided his contact information. And promptly received a reply Monday afternoon back from Noel with an invitation to meet up. Noel suggested meeting at Signal Rock so Tyler could show him where he found the trophies. They agreed to meet up that following Saturday.
Saturday morning, Tyler packed the trophies into an empty Amazon Prime cardboard box and placed the box in the trunk on his SUV. TJ hopped in the front seat and the two “little leaguers” began the short journey from their home to Signal Rock. There was much anticipation for both Tyler and TJ. Tyler, looking to show his son how a good deed is done and inspire him to want to do more of them. TJ, curious why someone would throw away baseball trophies and signed baseballs. “He better have a darn good excuse,” stated TJ looking at his Dad. “Let’s not jump to any conclusions, we don’t even know who this person is other than a small amount of info,” replied Tyler. As they made their way up the hill to the baseball field and into the Signal Rock Recreational complex, Father and Son shared a few grins and then focused their stares on finding this Noel. There were no cars in the parking lot that Saturday morning when they arrived. But there was a bike.
A mountain bike was parked up against the mural craftily painted on the concession stand brick wall. The wonderful baseball mural depicted a typical baseball situation – pitcher throws a fastball, hitter takes a big swing, and the ball is hit into the field of play. On top of the bike seat was a Merc baseball, one that looked like it had logged a few batting practice miles. The Abrams walked towards the bike like two detectives who had found an important clue in a tricky cold case. And then, were startled by the words “Great day for a bike ride, eh? You must be Tyler. And you must be TJ.” Noel emerged from his seat on the first row of bleachers, Fenway Trucker hat turned backwards like Ken Griffey, Jr, and walked towards the Abrams. Tyler extended his hand, Noel accepted. Noel put his fist to which TJ reciprocated with his fist to Noel’s.
Tyler began by retelling the story he had emailed Noel earlier. About how he and TJ were working at the field, there was a big pile of leaves, their collective brains thought it was a great opportunity to catch a baseball diving into them, and so on. “I approve, I probably would have done the same thing with my sons.” added Noel and then nodded to Tyler to continue his story. “So TJ packed way the heck up, took off like a Kevin Pillar dive, and ended up bumping into a bunch of your trophies. That pretty much brings us up to speed, I guess.” Tyler waited for Noel to digest the story. But before Noel could answer, TJ went into full District Attorney mode. “So, you play ball, then you take your trophies and dump them in the woods? What kind of baseball fan, litterbug are you? Who throws away perfectly good trophies? What is the matter with you?” Tyler stepped towards his son but Noel put his hand up to halt him. “Hold on there counselor,” Noel removed his hat, faked wiping sweat from his brow,and then returned his favorite hat to his head, this time with the bill facing forward. “Don’t you want to hear my side before you find me guilty?”
To be continued…