Birdland Suffers a Big Loss

matt hersl holding both fists up

One year ago Matt Hersl, a devout fan of the Baltimore Orioles and community activist was tragically taken from us following a senseless, careless and reckless accident. Today we once again take a moment to remember Matt. Here is his story. ~ Tony Lombardi

 

There’s purity to the game of baseball that no other sport can match. Its history and the indelible mark it has left upon our nation’s landscape has no peer.

The legendary names, folklore, the metaphors and the history, they lure you in and take you back to a simpler place and time.

I was reminded of that on Opening Day this season.

Surrounded by many fans who heartily celebrated the beginning of a new baseball season in Baltimore, somehow in a surreal way I was able to tune out those around me for a few moments and soak in the beauty and uniqueness of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

How blessed are we to call it home?

Ah yes, a new season is upon us.

Baseball’s arrival signals the end of winter and in many ways a new start. It prepares us for the playground called summer – a time that tantalizes our senses, a time during which we seem to harvest our most unforgettable memories.

Admittedly I soured on baseball for years.

The Orioles’ losing seasons, wretched management, an inept commissioner and the impurities ushered in by the steroid era severely tainted the sport I grew up on – at least for me.

Despite my jadedness towards MLB, I somehow seemed to maintain a level of respect and admiration for the diehard fans who inexplicably were able to wear blinders that shielded their love for the game from the pollutants that tried to destroy it.

Our young blogger Tim Anderson is one such fan.

Since the time he could really understand what baseball was or is he was attached to a loser. Most kids would find other hobbies or games to pass the time. Perhaps even another team. But not Tim.

Tim goes to all Orioles games and he is one of what appears to be a growing cult of sorts at Camden Yards – ballhawks. During his 19 years on the planet Tim has snagged 18 homerun balls at OPACY and countless batting practice long flies.

Yesterday Tim lost one of his ballhawking colleagues – Matt Hersl.

In a tragically freakish accident, the 45-year-old ballhawk, community activist and extremely well-loved brother, friend and neighbor, was taken from us.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Matt but I do know his brother Stephen, a kind, giving, classic gentleman, husband and father. I feel for Stephen, his pain and sorrow and the suddenness with which death has robbed him of someone so precious.

Today as Orioles fans, we’ve all lost because it’s people like Matt who keep the fabric of O’s fandom in tact, even when frayed to its final threads.

And though Matt rarely if ever sat in his seat preferring instead to shift his position based upon where he thought a batted ball into the grandstands might fall, it is fitting that the Orioles recognize his devotion, perhaps decorating his seat in an honorable way or give him a plaque on the flag court – something to properly acknowledge his devotion to his team and to his community.

It’s fans like Matt who preserve the game, its folklore and proper place in Americana.

The one constant through all the years Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. ~ James Earl Jones (Terrence Mann) in The Field of Dreams

Matt here’s to your memory, your selflessness, your love, your ballhawking and the permanent mark you left on those fortunate enough to have known you.

May it inspire others to be like you.

Rest in peace…

This entry was posted in Blog View, Featured by Tony Lombardi. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tony Lombardi

Tony Lombardi
Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin...more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Hot off the street

Mike Elias Will Lead Orioles into Future
Mike Elias Will Lead Orioles into Future

It took over two weeks following the World Series for the Orioles to find the right person to head their organization moving forward, but the patience may have paid off. Mike Elias, age 35, is a young...read more

Knee-Jerk Reactions: O’s Set to Hire Mike Elias
Knee-Jerk Reactions: O’s Set to Hire Mike Elias

According to multiple reports, the Orioles are set to hire former Houston Astros Assistant GM Mike Elias to be not just the GM, but the top decision-maker of the organization. It would be great for...read more

Will the Orioles Draft Bobby Witt Jr. First Overall?
Will the Orioles Draft Bobby Witt Jr. First Overall?

For just the second time in franchise history, the Baltimore Orioles hold the first overall pick ahead of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft. The Orioles laboured to a 47-115 record in 2018, crawlin...read more

How Do the O’s Approach the Offseason and 2019?
How Do the O’s Approach the Offseason and 2019?

It was a dismal season from the Baltimore Orioles, with the only real solace being that they met the record of the appalling 2003 Detroit Tigers of 43-108 with games in hand. Regardless of the record,...read more

The Warehouse Podcast Episode 27: The End of the Road
The Warehouse Podcast Episode 27: The End of the Road

The dumpster fire that was the 2018 season of the Baltimore Orioles is over, thankfully. It is a time for change in Charm City. Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette are out of a job. Peter Ange...read more

View More