Ozarks Life: Baseball Seams to Heal

A local author is helping a father cope by playing a game of catch.
Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 5:24 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Whenever you play a game of catch, memories flow like the effortless glide of horsehide.

Ethan Bryan wrote a book about it. We first met the Springfieldian about a year ago shortly after his book, A Year of Playing Catch, was published.

Ethan says it’s had a modest string of sales over the year. Like all authors, he’s tried to keep tabs on all of his book’s reviews.

“So I did what you’re never supposed to do,” Ethan said, “and I Googled my name. And the very first thing that popped up said ‘Ethan Bryan obituary.’ That just caught me completely off guard.”

A storyteller at heart, Ethan the author wanted to know more.

“It was a story that was just a couple of days old; it just happened,” Ethan said. “He died in an automobile accident on the way home from baseball practice.”

Ethan C Bryan was 16. He was energetic and talented.

Ethan D Bryan was numb.

“I think for about two hours, I was just reading all things pertaining to Ethan Cole Bryan,” Ethan the author said. “And so as you’re reading, I started getting this feeling that I needed to do something in return.”

Ethan the author reached out to West County High School in Park Hills, Missouri.

“Can I send a copy of my book to his parents,” he asked the principal. “Just to let them know someone’s thinking of them.”

The book was sent and months went by.

But eventually, Ethan the author received the most amazing book review.

“As I started reading the book,” Dan Bryan, the 16-year-old’s father said, “I had thoughts come to my mind instantly. This is a way that I can honor Ethan. And I needed some healing myself.”

“He said, he wanted to play 365 games of catch,” Ethan the author said, “in his son, Ethan’s, memory.

Sharing what he loved to do with his son - playing catch. Dan calls his journey Baseball Seams to Heal.

“I look at those red seams,” Dan said, “and I can see that those seams are holding everything together inside that ball. And that’s how I made the connection. With that is now baseball is holding me together. And it’s allowing me to heal.”

Dan has played catch a little over 190-times. He uses his son’s glove and the ball pulled from his son’s car.

Some early sessions were with those who knew Ethan and a lot of stories were told. Old stuff from them is new memories for dad.

“We found out after his passing, (Ethan) had the ability to know when his friends and classmates were off; having a bad day,” Dan said. “He would stop in the hallway and ensure that they were doing well. And then he would always part ways by giving him a stick of gum. And we didn’t know that... So glad that that’s my son.”

This is what therapy looks like for Dan. Healing by sharing who Ethan was. And often, his catch partners let down their walls and open up about their troubles or hardships.

“I feel really humbled and blessed that these folks want to take the time to share their heart with me knowing what my purpose is,” Dan said. “And it’s giving them a purpose.”

“Dan is taking what to me would be one of life’s worst experiences, when you have to bury a child,” Ethan the author said, “and he has turned into this story of hope and healing and inspiration and he’s doing it through a game of catch.”

So this Father’s Day, what’s stopping you from getting away from the tv or the video games and heading outside, and having a laugh while playing a little game of catch?

“They may be small moments to us now,” Dan said, “but they’re going to be huge memories at some point. So just cherish that time, grab your glove, get the ball, go out in the backyard, and have a catch.”

Dan has a scholarship created in his son’s name. You can donate by reaching out to the First State Community Bank of Desloge, Missouri.

You can click here to order Ethan Bryan’s book, A Year of Playing Catch, from Amazon.

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