What can I say?

Life can be so strange. Yesterday morning I saw a magical sunrise and was reminded of the beauty and greatness of life. As I went to bed around noon to catch a few Zzzzs, I was on a high note. But as I was waking up later that day and checked my phone I saw that I got a text that my friend Toby Walker had unexpectedly passed away. Damn.

Toby was an umpire for the National Club Baseball Association's World Series games. Toby officiated during every World Series that I have photographed and we quickly became what I'd call friends. Later, this would become good friends and we would communicate some during the off season.

As I've mentioned several times, the NCBA is my extended family. Toby and I would chat often on the field between innings. We'd talk about the game and he'd ask if I saw (that is, photograph) a particular close call that he made and if he got it right - he always wanted, of course, to get it right, he was always working to get better.

Sometimes I'd hang out with Toby and a couple of the other umpires after the games. I was a little kid at Christmas, hanging out with guys that talked and loved baseball as much as I do.

Over the years I've taken a lot of photos of Toby - why, because he was my friend and I liked to share them with him. But mainly, photos, even for me, reinforce my memories and are priceless, they mean the world to me. Toby will always be a part of my life as I have a very large photo of him working behind the plate hanging in my Man Cave.

I am deeply saddened at Toby's passing. The games will not be the same without him.

Until next time, be safe, be good and God Speed my friend.