An eerie silence is looming over Security Service Field these days. Sure, the crack of the bat, home run cheers and "strike three" fill the ballpark. But still it seems silent to me.
What's missing? The cheerful voice of Rai Henniger who was hurt in a fireworks accident on May 11th. Rai remains in a Denver hospital with a long fight ahead of him.
Rai was a pro's pro when it came to entertainment. He understood minor league baseball is all about the fans and he went to extremes to make sure Sky Sox fans were entertained from the moment they entered the ballpark, to the time they exited. I used to marvel, and sometimes poke fun, at his pre-game speech in which he would tell the fans that "this is the highest ballpark in the country," and the PCL's alumni include "Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and Todd Helton." He could and talk PCL baseball all day if you let him. I use to joke that he recited that speech in his sleep. In truth, I was impressed with his presence. A man who loved people.
He always had time to talk. I am reminded of a time Rai and I were talking about the lack of attendance at the stadium. He always had a positive spin on everything. The eternal optimist. "He would tell me, things are going to change. You'll see." Turns out he was right. The Sky Sox are drawing more fans this year than I have seen in a long time. I wish Rai could be apart of it. I wish he would tap me on the shoulder and say, "See Jesse, I told you!" But he wouldn't do that even if he had the chance. Rai is a class act and would let his smile and the baseball do the talking.
I find myself thinking of Rai and his family every day. Even shedding a tear for him and his family. I miss Rai. I miss him as an entertainer, colleague and friend. It will be a glorious day when Rai returns to Security Service Field. His voice filling the loud speakers. His enthusiasm exciting the ballpark. His smile lighting up the day.
His return may not happen for a while. But if I've learned anything from Rai, its put on a smile and think positive. Optimism is the ultimate cure for hard times. Good days are ahead. Get well. See ya soon buddy!