Calling the Pen: Baseball's a friend that never leaves you -
Baseball Essays

Calling the Pen: Baseball’s a friend that never leaves you


On the ninth day of the fifth month of the year, we still wait.

Call it the longest rain delay ever. That’s a great inside joke I have with’s Rich Dubroff. Rich keeps score of everything, including rain delays, and this has trended toward a delightful Twitter joke for two.

There are more important things than baseball in life. They aren’t many that give me the absolute rush of a good game — however anyone defines that.


I don’t applaud at ballgames. There’s something about no cheering in the press box that morphs into relatively cheap-seat behavior when you’ve worked in media for more than a decade. Don’t mistake that for lack of interest.

I’ve been incredibly lucky. I’ve had a perfect seat with unlimited snacks and an opportunity to watch batting practice from the field. Not all stereotypes are true about media, but this one fits the bill. We are spoiled rotten, and I loved it. Thanks to the great people with the Orioles public relations team, I’ve had the opportunity to throw out a first pitch at a ballgame. I’ve chatted with Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, and Dodgers sideline reporter Alanna Rizzo wore my “DashStrong” jelly bracelet on air that my friends at WBAL made for me.

My life changed around the playoffs of 2017. On a Saturday morning, I received a call from my primary-care doctor. Pro tip: a weekend call from your doctor usually doesn’t come with happy news. I remember very little from the conversation except that I had cancer, and he was sorry. I cried the rest of the day until the baseball games started.

Fast forward three years (and another cancer diagnosis later), and I’m  six days away from my last infusion. The last time an extraordinarily kind nurse stabs my chest with a needle. The last time poison drips into my body. The last time I walk this macabre pathway lined with flowers to end up in a waiting room with others wearing the same gloom-and-doom look.

There’s nothing fun about cancer. There’s a lot funny about cancer. I cope with humor. I love to joke around with my friends. I’ll let you in on a little secret: If people still stick with you during cancer, they will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Baseball becomes a friend, too. It’s always been there, but it’s needed when I’m fresh off treatment and not knowing what planet I currently occupy. I’ve watched games where I absolutely didn’t know what took place on my iPad, but I knew it was comforting. It’s home.

I’m a Baltimore boy, but a Dodgers fan. Blame it on Vin Scully. He makes everything seem alive with electricity and even when baseball comes back, he won’t be in the press box. That will always make me feel like I’m a batter that left the bases loaded and ended the inning with a ground ball to short. But his team still takes the field. And some wacky man in the mid-Atlantic who roots for a team on the West Coast that looks to strike out cancer watches their every plate appearance.

Chris Dachille worked as an executive sports producer for more than a decade at WBAL-TV in Baltimore. He received the Old Hilltop award, given annually to a media member during the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. He is currently recovering from Stage Four Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Jack Gibbons spent 46 years in sports journalism, including a chunk of that time as sports editor of The Baltimore Sun. Now retired from full-time work, Jack serves as the lead editor and writer for’s “Calling the Pen,” a periodic feature that highlights baseball essays written by the community. If you would like to contribute to ‘Calling the Pen,” send a 750-1,200-word, original piece via email to [email protected] for consideration.

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