I have not been around here in a long long long time. When I left I felt that it was time for new voices and ideas. I am back today for my close friend Luke Bell aka RU4 Fungo (very first name on here) and then he shortened it to just Fungo. And yes he was the very best poster on these forums .... ever.
The following is a post from my Facebook page that I hope folks take a couple of minutes and read. At this time Luke is still with us .... as only he would have it, he is picking the day he will "pass"
Warning .... This will be long.
As some of you know Luke Bell is my friend. A few years ago Luke was diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). The V.A. has determined this to be as a result of probable contact with “Agent Orange” while serving in Vietnam.
Over the last few days I have received messages that have broken my heart and made tears run down my cheeks. Today I received a message that was all of that yet made me happy. I have been asked by Luke to write this and I almost cannot.......
From Luke: “ *****day is the day that I will pass. I’m good with it. I’m actually looking forward to it.”
Luke along with his wife Gloria and his son Josh recently decided to have the ventilator that is keeping Luke alive disconnected. The necessary arrangements have been made Luke is ready. I’ve decided to leave the day out of this .... just to say ..... in the next few days. After other personal comments between us I asked ... Is there anything that you would like me to do for you? The reply was “Please tell my FB friends”
At this point I am 2 hours into writing this at this point .... I so want this to be special and to not sound like an idiot.
In February of 1998 I started an internet website for the information exchange about all things related to High School Baseball. I knew nothing about website design, running a website or a message board forum ... I just jumped in. I added a message board in the first week thinking that a community of like minded, polite people would be the key to the site working and achieving any longevity. One of the first people to sign up was a user by the screen name of “Fungo”, from Spring City, Tennessee. Fungo turned out to be Luke Bell. He and I had a very quick bond and exchanged ideas, barbs and disagreed on some of my “ideas”. Best of all we became friends. Luke Bell has a type of common sense that few people have. I tried several times to get Luke to write articles for the website .... he always declined my requests ... saying that he was not a good writer. Then one day I realized something and did this to him (from the website) “I coaxed and nudged our friend Fungo to write an article or two for this website, without luck. I know many of us enjoy his wit, charm and tongue-in-cheek wisdom that comes through in his message board posts. Then I suddenly realized it! He was writing articles for the site .... All I needed to do was capture his message board posts.” And I did!
Over the next few years our sons (Andy (mine) and Josh (Luke’s) graduated from High School, played Division 1 college baseball and each had a couple of years of professional baseball. We rooted for each others sons just as if they were our own, exalting in each success and saddened by their disappointments.
During Andy’s senior year in college I decided to let the website go ... I did not feel that I was able to give it the proper time it deserved and gave it to a wonderful lady from Minnesota (a Mom of a high school player). The site has continued and become a constant and unbiased reliable resource for parents. Luke Bell was a key element in the success of the website .... the site never charged for membership ... had an average of 50,000 forum posts per month and most importantly helped thousands of players, coaches and parents / guardians. Over the 19+ years that we have known each other Luke and Gloria, Sue and I have remained friends, had dinner together when we were “in the area.” Luke and I met different places to photograph critters ... I took him to Florida for a week of bird photography. I remember him meeting my brother David on that trip and them taking up like they had known each other for 30 years! (two people that have never met a stranger) How they both picked on me .... sheesh. The most marvelous part of the trip was when Luke and my Dad sat across from each other, at my Dad’s kitchen table and talked for hours and hours and hours .... I finally went to bed!
Why was today's message one that made me happy? I visited Luke in the hospital at Vanderbilt, when his ALS diagnosis was confirmed. I have watched the disease trap a special person in a body that betrayed him regularly. Several times Luke and I talked about “the quality of life.” We did so briefly again today. I will miss my friend ..... but will always smile when I think of him.