The Classic

Our world is full of amazing traditions:

Christmas

The Classic

Free Slurpee Day at 7/11

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The Kreider-McCormick Classic.

The what?!?

The Kreider-McCormick Classic.

Kreider-McCormick ClassicThe Kreider-McCormick Classic started in 1996. However, it wasn’t a Classic then. It was just a dozen kids playing baseball in a park during the last week of school. We were in the seventh grade. None of us had cellphones, flat screen TVs, or the internet. “Macarena” was the number one song that year.

We just happened to play another game of baseball, in that same neighborhood park, during the last week of school the next year too. It then became a tradition. The following year, we went off to high school and met some new friends. One of those friends, Matt H., gave our pickup game of baseball a name:

The Kreider-McCormick Classic.

1999 Classic

(Due to technological and budgetary restraints, this is the only picture in existence from the first ten Classics.)

The world has changed a lot since that first Classic in 1996.  Much of it for the better, some of it for the worse. However, one thing remains the same:

Every summer, twenty or so old friends gather together at the high school we once called home. We play baseball, meet all the new husbands, wives, and babies, and laugh about the priceless memories of our youth. Two strangers met at the 2009 Classic. They got married and had a baby a few years later.

It seems like we were sixteen-year-olds rocking our Jansports, Discmans, and fresh Tommy Hilfiger shirts just a few heartbeats ago. Now, we’re rocking mortgages, baby strollers, and a few extra pounds.

2013 Classic

(The 2013 Classic)

This year’s Kreider-McCormick Classic, the eighteenth version of this esteemed game, so esteemed that the Virginia Beach newspaper wrote about it once, is taking place on August 16, 2014 at 2:00pm at Tallwood High School.

We’re trying to use this year’s Classic to raise money for a good cause. One of our friends and classmates passed away recently. To raise money for a suicide prevention charity, one of the Classic legends, Justin G., designed some t-shirts. You can buy one of those t-shirts for $20 here. All the money goes to the charity. The catch is that we have to buy 20 t-shirts for this to happen. We’re far from that goal. So consider buying some epic Classic memorabilia and supporting a good cause all at the same time.

This event is one of my favorite days of the year. It reminds me that something that may seem small and inconsequential can grow into something beautiful. It gets a little harder to run around the bases each year, but those strained gasps for air and leg cramps remind me there is no place like home and a community of childhood friends.

Everyday Heroes: Lamar the Lion

I know this guy who was painfully shy and he spent most of his days studying, eating junk food, and watching “Beverly Hills 90210.”

It was me.

Then I met Lamar.

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I knew there was something special about Lamar the first time I saw him.  Most noticeably, he was dressed like a secret agent and leading an enormous “Men in Black” song and dance routine at Tallwood High School’s freshman orientation.  He was confident, he was charismatic, he was captivating.  I didn’t know him, but I wanted to be like him.

I still do.

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We both like to fly under the radar.

Lamar is the most gregarious person I know.  He’s also hilarious, and fifteen years later, he still captures my attention.  When Lamar walks into a room, you notice. (His bright shirts, loud voice, and enthralling personality are hard to ignore.)  He has a heart of gold and spends his workdays serving local kids and communities through various programming activities at YMCAs in the DC area.  There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of people around the world who look up to Lamar, who have been impacted by Lamar, and who call Lamar a hero.

I’m one of them.

Like I said, I was a shy dude back in the day and I was floating through life aimlessly.  I met Lamar, he took me under his wing, encouraged me to get involved at school, and taught me what living a passionate and engaging life is all about.  Thus, if you think I’m loud and annoying, blame Lamar.  This guy had hundreds of friends and thousands of things on his to-do list, but he took the time to mentor me.  He changed the entire trajectory of my life. For the better.

I’m not the only one who feels this way.  Here’s what others had to say about Lamar:

Cristina F. (@cristinamary):  “Lamar is the most resilient person I know, hands down. He has overcome so much, and I attribute that to his natural talents and abilities, which are plentiful. He is a born leader. He is an amazing friend. How long has it been now, 17 years? And NEVER a dull moment. I’m grateful for his loyalty and love. He has made me laugh more times than I can count. He has been at all of my shows, with bells on. So much support! We have seen each other through a lot of trials, tribulations, joys, successes and life lessons. Here’s to 17 more years, my dear friend!”

Amy H. (@AMH5):  “Lamar is the true definition of one-of-a-kind. He’s not only my best friend, but the brother I never had. He’s selfless, always knows how to put a smile on your face, full of words of wisdom, he is the guy who will take his shirt off his back for his friends.  Anyone who is able to call Lamar their friend should consider themselves lucky. He is one of the few people in my life that I will cherish forever. He’s been a hero to me in more ways than I could ever say. I’m proud to call him my best friend.”

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Chad H. (@chadhartigan):  “My impression of Lamar in high school was that he had the most school spirit of anyone I knew. He was involved with absolutely everything: school government, theatre, administration, even cheerleading (I think). Now that we’re more than a decade removed from that context, I know that it had nothing to do with school spirit. It was people spirit. Lamar was involved with everything because he loved mingling and working with every type of person. It’s an attitude he brings to his work, his play and his relationships, and it’s infectious.”

In short, Lamar is a fabulous human being, a hilarious person to know, and a faithful friend. Most importantly, Lamar loves Miley Cyrus and he’s a great rapper:

Thank you, Lamar.  You make the world a much better place.

Lessons Learned

I’m not brilliant.  Thus, any time I can learn something new, that’s a good thing.  Bonus points if it’s not some useless pop trivia fact. (Lady Gaga’s real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. And she has a dog named Fozzi.)

Thankfully, I learned a lot of new stuff this weekend.

I learned that it is possible to eat 30 brownies in 48 hours.

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  #grandma’s

I learned that idiot high school guys just grow up to be idiot older guys.  And they play baseball in a thunderstorm.

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No one died.  Thanks, God.

I learned that I-95 is the worst place in the world.  Other than Blacksburg.

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Sat in traffic for six hours.  At least Amanda got a nice nap.

I learned that DC has a lot of problems.  The lack of a Cookout is the worst of them all.

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I crushed a huge burger, fries, hushpuppies, and a milkshake for $6.  SIX DOLLARS.  My salads in DC cost $11.  Fix this, Obama.

I learned that Chubbies shorts are the perfect baseball attire.

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Right? RIGHT?!

I learned that the Wave Church is pretty dope.  Gorgeous building, incredible pastors, ridiculous conference, and music so fly that it makes Superman jealous.  Plus, guys in pink pants and Biggie shirts are welcome there.

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…and Steelers fans too (unfortunately).

Just like the lustful sirens called for Odysseus, I learned that Virginia Beach will always beckon me to return.

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We’ll see.

Finally, I learned that no matter how many years pass by, how many pounds we gain, or how many wives or kids we have, nothing really changes between me and my old high school buds. We always pick up where we left off.  We’re not old friends, just friends. And idiots.

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The survivors of the 17th Annual Kreider-McCormick Classic.  Team McCormick “won” a 5-0 rain-soaked 4-inning throwdown.  Amazingly, no injuries.  Many thanks to the thousands who attended and to Christi H. for all the amazing pictures!

Thankful Thursday

Life can be rough sometimes.

Your job might be stressful.  Your family might be crazy.  Your baseball team might be the most disappointing thing since Jurassic Park 2.

Despite all that, life is still pretty awesome and there are always plenty of things to be thankful about.  Here’s what I’m especially thankful for this week:

I’m thankful for Katy Perry

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Katy just announced that she is releasing a new album in October.

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Rejoice, world.

I’m thankful for bike rides that add excitement to a day spent staring at Microsoft Word.  Or Excel if I go really crazy.

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(I’m thankful I didn’t die.)

I’m thankful I get to bike past pretty things twice a day.

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I’m thankful for this Bible verse:

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After working 853 hours this week, I needed that.

I’m thankful for Paul. 

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He planned an epic community service day.  Thanks, Paul.

I’m thankful that I have had a lot of the same friends for 15-20 years.

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 I’m thankful that I get to see a lot of those friends in Virginia Beach this weekend.

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Speaking of Va Breezy, I’m thankful that I get to go home, hang with family, and see lots of my Cap City Church friends at Wave Conference 2013.

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(even if I missed the first 95% of the conference)

Most importantly, I’m thankful that I didn’t have to take the bar exam this week.  That test is the only thing worse than The Twilight Saga: New Moon.

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(P.S. – Call me, Katy!)

(P.P.S. – Team Edward for Life)