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In Memoriam

Posted: July 14, 2013 - 12:15am
This plaque in memory of Joshua McCuistion III was placed at the base of the flag pole just outside the center field fence at Adair Kennedy Field. McCuistion died at age 15 in a hiking accident at A.J. Falls near the Mendenhall Glacier. The plaque had become overgrown by weeds and brush and gone unnoticied until last weekend, virtually forgotten.  KLAS STOLPE | JUNEAU EMPIRE
KLAS STOLPE | JUNEAU EMPIRE
This plaque in memory of Joshua McCuistion III was placed at the base of the flag pole just outside the center field fence at Adair Kennedy Field. McCuistion died at age 15 in a hiking accident at A.J. Falls near the Mendenhall Glacier. The plaque had become overgrown by weeds and brush and gone unnoticied until last weekend, virtually forgotten.

There once was a boy who loved baseball.

I like to imagine he would want to hit a home run to center field.

I am sure, like many young boys, he would go to the baseball parks in Juneau and press his face against the fences or through the cracks of wood siding or stand shielding his face from the rain or sun to gaze longingly out into his own dreams.

Maybe he would be chewing the leather ties on his glove, in his mind hitting a home run like the bigger lads he idolized.

Maybe his hair was always wild from riding his bike like the wind to reach a park where he knew other lovers of the game were gathering. His glove dangling on the handlebars, a bat balanced on his shoulder, a ball tucked into a jacket pocket.

Maybe he went to every game he could go to, such as those of adult softball, or Little League or high school, or pick-up games at Cope Park or Melvin Park.

Some might remember the young boy as being quiet.

Some know he played baseball because they chose him once or twice for their side in a pick-up game.

“He was always around,” one local said. “We didn’t have much to do then so we played pick-up games. He was a guy who always had a mitt.”

Many did not know him personally as they played in the town and he was from the Valley, living at the Glacier View Trailer Court.

Most do not remember him too well, but remember an event associated with him, an event from Sunday, July 6, 1986.

This young baseball loving boy, age 15, and a friend, age 14, were spending a day riding their bikes on the East Glacier Trail.

I like to imagine they were passing time until a game that night.

They left their bikes and the trail and crossed a creek that fed the AJ Falls just below.

It began as a beautiful day.

I imagine they talked of fireworks from the days before, the parade, of many things including, of course, baseball.

On the return over the creek the boy would slip, fall into the water and be swept over the falls onto the rocks below.

It was about 1:45 p.m.

The young boy’s passion would be crushed in the fall.

An acquaintance of the boy would never again return to the glacier. The boy’s family would move away.

Roughly 328 feet from home plate at Adair Kennedy Field is a place this boy dreamed of.

It is just outside the center field fence, at the base of the flagpole where the United States and Alaska flags are tethered.

It is a concrete block overgrown with weeds.

On the block, a plaque reads:

IN MEMORIUM (sic)

JOSHUA MCCUISTION III

1971-1986

“A BOY WHO LOVED BASEBALL”

This young baseball-loving boy would be buried far from center field, at St. John’s Catholic Cemetery in Beach, N.D. Some say it is just across the aisle from the rest of his family, with one plot empty beside him for his mother.

The spot left behind in center field takes my breath away.

It is a spot few know of. His legacy of how fragile life can be, forgotten.

It has become wrought with moss, wild flowers and other growth. It is passed and ignored daily by people enjoying a day at the ball game or walking their dog or strolling hand-in-hand.

It is a place that a young boy would love to have hit a home run.

A boy who loved baseball.

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