To Righetti, throwing the no-hitter was fun, but the best part for him was all the people who were able to enjoy it because of the July 4 holiday.
“Back then a lot of folks on July 4 went out and you went to the beach,” Righetti said. “A lot of people were listening on radios, or in their cars, or going to the beach, or coming back, or what have you. So, those stories were pretty cool.”
But this holiday– this celebration of freedom– as often stated, comes with a price.
The price of freedom
Cory Remsburg, Army Ranger on his 10th combat tour owned the ground he was walked on. He was trekking out to find a landing zone in Afghanistan after a successful mission. Just like Righetti, Remsburg wouldn’t have a chance to celebrate on the field of victory. Another Ranger stepped on an IED about 5-6 feet from him.
“My son took the blast from his right side,” said Craig Remsburg, Cory’s father. “It blew the person who stepped on the IED and my son into a canal – face down in the canal.”
After the dust had settled and roll call had been taken Cory’s company knew two were missing.
“They found him head down in the water,” Remsburg said. “They immediately jumped in the canal and pulled my son out.”
At the time Remsburg was in Toronto for business giving a presentation to employees when his cell phone rang. “I noticed several extra digits, which means it’s a satellite phone call and it’s from overseas. So, I dismissed the group for about 10 minutes,” Remsburg said expecting it to be Corey.
When he answered the phone and said “hey Corey” there was silence on the other end. He then heard, “This is Major McGee, Corey’s company commander.”
“And that’s when my stomach kind of dropped,” said Remsburg. “At that point I knew something was wrong.”
After multiple brain, head, retina and right eye surgery’s, taking care of burns and three months in a coma, Remsburg received another phone call about his son.
“He was diagnosed by a neuropsychologist as emerged from a coma,” Remsburg said.
Part of the miracle of Corey being alive today is the fact that there was a Physician’s Assistant (PA) on his mission, which is not always the case. “Sometimes angels come in different ways,” said Remsburg about the miracle of the immediate care and attention his son received to keep him alive.
Today Corey Remsburg has many challenges ahead of him. While cognitively he has recovered he is still learning how to walk and talk.
“He wants to go back in that unit,” Remsburg said. “That’s his objective, that’s his determination, that‘s his drive. We’re not going to get in the way of that.”
What it takes to achieve goals
When it comes to dreams of being a Major League ballplayer, or in Corey’s case becoming an Army Ranger again, Righetti says achieving any dream is about the preparation you put into it.
“Whatever town you grow up in you think the world revolves around your house, your block and what you are doing is only good enough to be in your local school or wherever you may be,” Righetti said. “You don’t realize you are training yourself for the future.”
Righetti has triplets and they will turn twenty in a few days. As dad Righetti knows his kids have worries about the future.
“They don’t realize at their age now they’ve already prepared themselves to maybe see what they really want to see and reach their dreams,” he said. “They’re not that far away.”
In order for Corey Remsberg to achieve his dream of becoming an Army Ranger again he needs extra support. He receives assistance from an organization called the Joshua Chamberlain Society (JCS). John Mabry, who played 14 years in Major League Baseball, is on the board and JCS is committed to providing Corey Remsburg with any assistance he might need for the rest of his life.
Whether it’s a long career in baseball, or Cory Remsburg returning to his unit one day, Mabry knows it’s possible for anyone to achieve their dreams.
For Mabry, staying in the majors for ten years (long enough to get the pension) was something that he always hoped he’d be able to do and when he thinks about this accomplishment, he says hard work and desire have to be at the top of the list to have a long career in baseball.
“You have to have some skill set but there were hundreds of players who had more talent than I did,” he said. “But there’s always something that get’s them, like a girlfriend back home, or they can’t handle the pressure — on the field or off the field.”
When Righetti talks about what it took for him to make it to the big leagues, and even now as a pitching coach, he has the same attitude Mabry talks about.
“I wasn’t a big star in high school,” Righetti recalls. “So, I was a slow kind of riser. That’s what I’ve always remembered. Getting to spring training in the minor leagues and making it to the big leagues and then realizing what really separates you is you have to be good all the time. You can’t have a lot of bad days.
“When people keep handing you a uniform to put on and expect a certain amount of work from you and you are able to do that for a long period of time that means you are doing the right thing,” said Righetti. “You have to feel proud about that, no matter what job you are in. So, I never take it for granted.”
There was one time when Mabry wanted to quit. He had been in the league for 9 years and he was sent down to the minor leagues on the first cut of spring training. It was then he debated whether it was worth it or not, but he pressed on and ended up getting three more years in the majors.
“Just keep your head down and keep working towards where you are going and don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t, or you won’t, or you shouldn’t,” said Mabry about how to accomplish the seemingly impossible. “You are the only person that has to keep believing in yourself. You have to keep working at it. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Corey Remsburg, thank you for our freedom. We will see no-hitters, attend baseball games and see childhood dreams turn into reality for years to come because of your sacrifice. Keep believing. Keep working at it.
More of Dave Righetti’s comments about his no-hitter are at ESPN’s Page 2.