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The start of the MLB Season brings up memories of John’s dream coming to fruition.

“We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.” -Paulo Coelho

Growing up, my dream was clear. With absolute confidence, I not only knew that I’d play professional baseball, but that I’d play for my hometown St. Louis Cardinals. It was a certainty.


Until that dream, and the inevitability of obtaining it, was extinguished upon my waking up from one of more than a dozen surgeries after being burned at age nine. With great sadness, my dad shared that during the surgery the doctors were forced to amputate my fingers in order to save my life.

A new certainty crept into my mind: My life was over.

I was furious with my dad and began to cry. I wept knowing that no girl would ever want to hold my hand. I was angry because I’d never be able to write, which meant never graduating from school, which meant never getting a job. And I wept knowing that I’d never achieve my dream of playing baseball.

The journey from that burn center into recovery was filled with incredible adversity; yet overflowing with unexpected grace.

With the support of countless friends and a little personal grit, I learned to write, went back to school, graduated, and even found meaningful work. I also met and fell deeply in love with an amazing girl named Beth. A few years later she fell in love with me (that’s a different story!). We’ve been blessed with 19 years of marriage and four healthy kids.

We enjoy a wonderful life and have accomplished some remarkable achievements. Along the way I even surrendered the childhood dream of playing baseball with the Cardinals.


Until a few years ago, our office received a call from the St. Louis Cardinals organization. They shared that they were aware that I’d been dramatically impacted by their team back in 1987 when recovering from my burns. They were also aware that I had the opportunity to speak to the team during Spring Training that year…

And they were curious if I had any desire to join them for a home game to throw out the first pitch.

My friends, I have no fingers on my hands. I have no movement in my wrists, limited mobility in my elbows, and difficulty using my shoulders. Unfortunately, there was no possible way for me to throw out the first pitch.

So, it was with some anxiety that I responded: Absolutely!

It required a little creativity on how to balance the ball on my hand, a couple weeks of ‘training’ in the backyard with my sons and an extremely generous strike zone from the umpire, but six years ago a childhood dream became a reality. A kid, donning a St. Louis Cardinals jersey, made his way to the mound, waved at his parents, blew a kiss to his wife and kids and threw a first pitch bullet!

My friends, 36 years ago a little boy was expected to die.

But in 2017, a packed Busch Stadium with over 46,000 Cardinals’ fans saw a 40-year-old guy prove unequivocally that he had no chance at ever becoming a major league ball player. But more importantly: They saw a guy in awe of the life he gets to live reminding them that anything is possible in their lives, too.

As we journey professionally and personally, we will never understand the miracle of life fully.


Until we allow the unexpected to happen.

Don’t just be happy when it happens in someone else’s life, though. Expect it in yours, too.

This is your day. Play ball and Live Inspired.

19 replies on “Believe Again”

I wanted to be a neurosurgeon. I even pinned a dead mouse to the back of a shoebox lid so I could dissect it and teach my siblings some anatomy lessons!

I believe while your ‘dream’ of becoming a baseball player may not have come true, you are POSITIVELy impacting so many more individuals to help them grasp the concept of living INspired with no fingers than many of us that have all of our fingers fail to grasp. May God continue to bless you and your family

Thanks for the Monday Motivation!

Personally, I wanted to be an Airforce pilot, fly the F-15’s made in St. Louis. Had a pilot’s license before a driver’s license, left home at 15 to go to Kemper Military School to help my chances. Found out I was medically disqualified (hearing loss) when I was working through an academy appointment (thanks to Senator Eagleton).

I shipped for a bit but then moved home and went to St. Louis Community College trying to figure what to do next. That is where I meet my wife. 30+ years and 4 kids later still happily married. Also ended up with a couple Engineering Degrees a great career and the wife walked with me through all that, going deaf and battling vertigo. I most certainly would not have ever met her had I pursued my original ambition. Funny how it works out.

Thank you for your constant motivation! So inspiring and truly motivational! May you have a wonderful week!

My dream was to play baseball for the NY Yankees. I am so inspired by you and all of your readers and what they have done. It is truly an amazing community and I thank you for letting me be a part of it weekly. As a retired police officer, a father of four (one with special needs) and a husband your thoughts and messages truly are heart warming.

I wanted to be a Rockette! Ended up being a tax accountant, so close LOL. Thank you for always starting my week off right!

John – The journey from that burn center into recovery was filled with incredible adversity, yet overflowing with unexpected grace. Rings true to my ears now – without your book to remind me “Who were my Heroes” thanks for giving me the long-lost push I needed to re-enter the world of living inspired daily with grace & gratitude in my heart!

John, my childhood dream was to be an astronaut. Although that dream didn’t come to pass, I was led to serve my country for 28 years in the Air Force. I was part of an amazing team that launched satellites into space to keep this great nation of ours safe.
Thank you for your beautiful story and the hope you leave us with.

My dream was to play for the Cincinnati Reds. I always loved baseball and I was able to experience of winning the Ohio State Baseball Championship while playing at Elder High School in 1978. I went on to marry my high school sweetheart, we will be married for 40 years in June 2023, we are blessed with 3 children and 4 grandchildren.

Our daughter was badly burned in 2001. It changed all our lives forever and it was for the best. We became close and she fully recovered from her injuries. My wild dream was lived/realized when I was able to share the stage with our daughter to speak to first responders, Shriners and numerous other groups. The chance to give back is awesome.

She is a true inspiration and she speaks from the heart. As you know you cannot fake that. We Believed!

Live Inspired!

Greets from KY, you never fail to inspire me John, thanks.
My childhood dream was to write, publish, and sell thousands of mystery books, geared towards tweens; each book at the end, have some encouraging thoughts, and a challenge. I would include a PO Box for them to submit their responses. Wow, that was nearly 50 years ago.

So just wondering if there’s a video of that momentous occasion. What a story! Your words are so inspiring but a video would be over the top. Thanks John.

This brought tears to my eyes and made my hurt swell. I love the way you say “a little personal grit”. Hardly a little, but your humility is part of what makes you such a special person. So happy you got to live your dream.

What a mighty blessed encouraging word. I heard you speak a few years ago at Heartland Dental’s Winter Conference. Your testimony is amazing. You’re living proof of who I AM is and and that’s there’s no limits to what God can do. Thank you for increasing my faith today. Blessings to you and your family!

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