Justin Ricklefs


Pine Tar, George and Giving Cancer Hell

Here in Kansas City, you don’t have to walk very far before you see people of all ages dressed in Royals gear.

That certainly was the case at Kauffman Stadium last Friday night. Everywhere you looked was blue.

Hosmer, Salvy, Moose and Cain jerseys surrounded you on all sides. But if you looked close enough you saw some names from the days of my youth.

Bo Jackson, Frank White, George Brett.


A name you could say at any time in the last 30 years in Kansas City and get the same reaction.

#5. Pine tar. Lefty. .400. Kissing home plate. One of the greatest ball players of all time, at least here in Kansas City.



I saw several #5 jerseys that night, and each time I saw one, I thought of my sister. Growing up, my sister played a huge role in my life. She still does.

I loved baseball in part because she loved softball. And she loved our Royals.

Like the Royals’ #5, Darcie also wore #5. And she was a lefty like George. She was fast like George. And she could hit like George.

Darcie is on the bottom right of this amazing photo from the 80’s.
Because of these factors, because of my dad’s sense of humor, and because of the era we grew up in, George became her nickname.

As a middle school and high school kid, I’m sure she hated her dad calling her George.

Today, that same lefty, underwent her first round of chemo. For breast cancer. At 38 years old.

Not fair, not right, too young, too scary, not supposed to be this way. Happily married, four beautiful, young kids, the whole deal.

Her story is still unfolding, but already she has taught me three things in her early battle with this awful disease:
  1. How to handle fearI’ve written about it before, but she’s living it right now. The easy choice would be to lay down, give up, say it’s too hard. But she’s not letting fear call the shots, she’s calling her own shots.
  2. Grace, generosity and love win – When crap hits the fan, you don’t all of a sudden become somebody different. Instead, when it hits, the person you already are is accentuated, highlighted, exposed. From day one she’s fought this with grace, generosity and love. And in the end, that will win.
  3. Courage doesn’t come in ideal conditions – Brave, courageous people aren’t not afraid (yes I know it’s a double negative), they simply do it anyway. In other words, they don’t wait for the fear to go away. They shove it in the trunk and keep driving. Trusting that their movement, their intention, their active faith will squash fear’s lies.

She didn’t choose this battle. But I promise it messed with the wrong woman.

A little bit similar to the way the umpire messed with George Brett in the famous pine tar incident.

Give ’em hell George. We’re praying and pulling for you.

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