Burnie Battles: Father, Teacher, Fan and Much More
2:00 P.M. WEDNESDAY, June 24, 2009
JERRY HILL (E-MAIL)
It's funny how little we know about people we see all the time.
Monday was when I first heard about the tragic death of Burnie Battles, a former deacon at my church who I knew as a friend and passionate Baylor fan.
Until I read his obituary in the newspaper and attended his funeral on Wednesday, I had no idea that he had taught in the HHPR department at Baylor for more than 42 years. You see, he was never one to boast about his own accomplishments.
I was much more likely to hear about the accomplishments of his sons, Jay and Aaron, or daughter, Chrissy. While they were going to school, I knew he was a huge fan of the Waco Christian Warriors.
But I didn't know that this 68-year-old man had run in marathons and rode in 100-mile bicycle rides and canoed the rapids. I didn't know he had spent the last 17 years of his life devoting most of the spare time he had to a camp for special needs children.
It just wasn't his way to talk about himself. When we talked, the conversation usually went to our respective families. Although we haven't gone to the same church for several years, he would still ask me about my two boys and how they were doing.
Back in August, when I saw him on "Move-In" Day at Baylor, he congratulated me on my new job and talked about how proud he was of Jason Smith. He commented on how inquisitive and diligent Jason was in his class and how he was expecting big things from him in the '08 season.
I'm sure Burnie was beaming in April, when one of his former students - All-American offensive tackle Jason Smith - was taken with the second pick overall by the St. Louis Rams in the NFL Draft.
As his son, Aaron, put it: "Dad really did bleed green and gold."
I wish I had known more about Burnie and all of his accomplishments and all the special things he did in his life. How he touched thousands of lives as a teacher and mentor at Baylor and a counselor at Camp John Marc.
But what I knew about the man was probably what he held the dearest: God, family and Baylor. And from what I can tell, there's nothing wrong with setting those three things as your highest priorities. We'll miss you at the games, Burnie.
Deal . . . or No Deal?
12:15 P.M. FRIDAY, June 19, 2009
JERRY HILL (E-MAIL)
As of Friday, the Pittsburgh Pirates still had not signed fourth-round draft pick Zackry Dodson, a left-handed pitcher from Medina Valley (Texas) High School who signed a letter of intent with Baylor last November.
It doesn't mean that he won't eventually sign with the Pirates and take the pro baseball route instead of taking the detour to college. But maybe, just maybe, he's at least having second thoughts.
According to Baylor coach Steve Smith, high school players drafted in the fourth round historically have about a 25 percent chance of making it to the major leagues for even one day. Even worse is the statistic that one in 20 will ever get their college degree, "and the difference in earnings between having a degree and not having a degree is about $1 million over your lifetime," Smith added.
"So it's not unlike the show, `Deal or No Deal,''' Smith said. "Except you're doing it with your life. It's as real as who you're going to marry. What he's got is a one in four chance, historically, of ever throwing a pitch in the big leagues, much less a career."
Depending on the amount of the bonus, drafted high school players are taking a big gamble when they go the pro route instead of going to college first.
But when an organization is waving thousands of dollars in your face and giving you a chance to live your dream, just saying "No" can be the hardest thing you ever do. Even when it's the right thing to say.