My husband turns 40 today. He's been acting like he was 16 since I met him. We had a surprise party for him on Saturday and semi-roasted him.
Here's what I said:
We have a picture of Hugh Jennings on our family room wall.
For those of you who don't know, Jennings was a Major League Baseball player and manager from 1891 to 1925. And no, Matt was not alive then.
As a player for the Baltimore Orioles, Jennings was hit by pitches 51 times, in one season. That's a lot.
In fact, Jennings holds the record for being hit by the most pitches. He obviously wasn't ever afraid of taking one for the team, if it meant he would get on base and have a chance to score.
As a manager for the Detroit Tigers, Jennings was known for his antics, hoots, whistles and his famous shouts of "Ee-Yah" from the third base coaching box.
In fact, in the picture on our wall, he's jumping up and down on one foot. And that's not the only picture of him in that pose.
Remind you of anyone?
I know all this from Wikipedia. Just kidding.
I know all this because when he was a senior in college, Matt completed an honors project on baseball, John McGraw, Hugh Jennings and their ties to St. Bonaventure University -- our alma mater.
I remember thinking that was cool. And he was cool, just ask him.
Just like Jennings, Matt's one of those people whose passion is easy to see. Anyone who watched him as a young kid, athlete, coach or dried his clothes after he fell into the pool trying to get a kid's attention, or has talked to him for longer than 10 minutes knows that.
He's passionate about a lot of things: his family, his friends, his team, swimming, history, a good book, sports -- the list goes on.
What's not always so easy to see is how his passion -- once like Hugh Jenning's -- rough around the edges -- has developed into a dedication that doesn't wane. He's still the most passionate person I know.
He might not fall into the pool any more while he's coaching, but I've seen him fall head over heels for three kids. He may not shake his fist in the air any more while he's talking -- nah, nevermind, he still does that.
Just like Hugh Jennings, Matt takes a few for the team because somehow he knows that by taking a pitch, he'll give his team -- us -- a better chance to score.
So, whether that means standing up for a swimmer, crossing the globe to be his coach; coaching daily before 6 a.m.; ensuring he knows what our own kids -- and his 50 swimmers -- are doing in school; making lunch and sometimes dinner; staying in touch with his family and friends; or just being there to hold a hand -- he knows that sometimes when the pitch hits you it stings.
But more often than not, it makes you a much better person.
I'm proud and lucky to be his partner in this journey.