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Big League Stew

Hal McCoy’s new driver is a perfect choice

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(AP)

A few weeks ago we told you of Hal McCoy’s plight.

The Hall of Fame baseball writer, who's legally blind and unable to make the drive from his home in Englewood, OH to Great American Ballpark, needed a ride this season — his 42nd covering the Cincinnati Reds in one form another — after his driver for the past five years was forced to step aside due to health concerns.

McCoy sent out a call for help on his personal blog, asking those who have some time on their hands and would like to attend Reds games (free of charge) if they'd be interested in helping out.

The response, as it turns out, was overwhelming but the selection process for McCoy wasn't nearly as difficult as he anticipated. After sifting through the 437 offers, McCoy contacted retired Air Force load master Ray Snedegar first and knew instantly he was the perfect choice for the job.

Snedegar currently resides in Centerville, OH, which means by the time he picks McCoy up and drops him off it will be a 180-mile roundtrip. He'll be required to make that trip at least 81 times this season, and his only compensation (aside from the free seat) will be 55 cents a mile. But McCoy notes in his Fox Sports Ohio article, his new wheelman's offer stood out because it was motivated by something well beyond money, notoriety, or baseball itself.

He (Snedegar) lost his beloved wife, Barbara, on Nov. 19, 2011 and said to himself, “What now? I’d still get up at 6:30 in the morning, read the paper, drink my coffee and ask myself, ‘What now?’”

To keep busy Snedegar volunteers at the National Museum of the USAF at Wright Patterson Air Force Museum and he works part-time at Routsong Funeral Home in Centerville.

When he saw my blog, Snedegar sent his email, “Because it would give me a chance to mix and mingle with a lot of new people after losing my wife. I love baseball and I love Hal’s writing.”

Could this story get any better?

First of all, hats off to those who offered their services to McCoy in the first place. Yes, I realize free tickets to 81 baseball games is a pretty cool reward, but the financial sacrifice and time requirements involved make that type of commitment unrealistic for most.

But more importantly, hats off to Hal McCoy for turning this into a situation where he can help another person just as much as they’re helping him. To reach out to Ray Snedegar at this point in his life and give him something to focus on while he puts the pieces of his life back together is awesome. Truly awesome.

Good luck and safe travels to both when their six month journey begins on April 1. Hopefully we'll get to hear a few of their road stories as the year progresses.

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