Another one of my heroes has crossed the Silent River — Coach Buddy Roe.
I first met Coach Roe in my final year of Little League when I was 12. I played for McRoberts for three years, but my fourth year, I somehow ended up playing in Whitesburg. I know the “how,” but some things are better left unspoken. Coach Roe and Coach James Gose were my coaches. A friendship that would span the next 50 years was born until coach Gose passed a few years ago, and now coach Roe.
We were playing the Jaycees in the Little League championship game. I was on the RC team. It was the bottom of the 6th inning, and the Jaycees were leading us 4 to 3. We had two outs and two runners on base. I came to bat. Coach Roe and Coach Gose knew that I had gone long several times that year. I still see the smiles on their faces when I walked to the plate, as they knew we were about to win this game. But fate had a different take this night. I struck out on a full count. Game over, smiles gone.
Later in life, Coach Roe told me, “Steve, you couldn’t get it done for us back then. You struck out, but in this life you have been a big hit.” Coach Roe loved kids and baseball. He loved his family, his wife Donna and son Bobby, along with his grandchildren. He taught both of my girls in school and they loved him, as I did.
Coach Roe loved to fish, and his favorite fishing buddy was my old friend Jerry Coots. There will never be another Coach Roe. He was the head baseball coach at Whitesburg High School for 25 years, named Eastern Kentucky Mountain Conference coach of the year five times, taught school 31 years, was the director of the Whitesburg Little League, and a member of the Letcher County Sports Hall of Fame. In January of this year, Coach Roe was inducted into the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame.
Although he was a legend, he was so humble that he never passed up the chance to help some kid. Coach Roe crossed the Silent River much too soon. I suppose God needed a real coach for his team in Heaven, so he called up Coach Roe from the minor league.
My heroes continue to leave this journey we call life, and I sure miss them.