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Amy knew chicken would run at midnight

Jul 13, 2004 6:12 AM

This is a baseball story and an amazing one at that.

It’s about a baseball family, a major league third base coach and his daughter. I will start from the beginning.

It was spring training March of 1992 and Rich Donnelly was the third base coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates. His daughter Amy, a senior at Arlington (Texas) High School had gone to the eye doctor to get an adjustment to her contacts when they found a tumor later found to be malignant.

An operation was necessary, but the tumor was in a very bad place and the doctors could not get it all. Amy would have to undergo chemo treatments. The outlook was bad and she took a turn for the worse.

By this time the Pirates were playing the Philadelphia Phillies in the playoffs. Vince Genovese, a good friend of Rich, puts Amy on his private jet and flies her in to see the game. While at the stadium, she is watching her dad coach third base on his knees with cupped hands giving signals to a runner on second.

After the game Amy asks her dad if he told the runner "The Chicken Runs at Midnight?" Rich wondered where she got that. Amy says it just came to her. That night in the car and later at dinner it really became funny. It became her saying. When Amy passed away, Rich was back in Arlington. The priest scheduled to do her eulogy was no longer there, so Rich was waiting to see the replacement.

This guy comes walking down the hall wearing a Pirates baseball cap and introduces himself as Father David Yetsko from Pittsburgh and a huge fan. He was going to perform the eulogy. After talking Yetsko, Rich found out that he was at the same playoff game Amy saw. Now what are those odds! Well, it gets better.

Rich moves on to be the third base coach for the Florida Marlins under good friend Jim Leyland. They get into the playoffs and Rich brings his son Tim to be bat boy. As the Marlins continued to win, team owner Wayne Huizinga didn’t want Tim to go back. Huizinga felt it might be back luck.

It’s going to be a long 28 days so Rich calls the principal and explains his situation. Things worked out pretty good as Rich flew the principal in for a World Series game.

Now it’s the seventh game of the World Series and it has always been Donnelly’s dream to win the World Series.

The game goes into extra innings. Greg Counsell is on third and Edgar Renteria gets a base hit scoring Counsell with the winning run and madness breaks out.

The strange thing was Counsell being nicknamed "chicken" because of the way he stood in the batters box. Rich was at the bottom of the pile and being crushed when he dug himself out only to see his son going crazy, crying and screaming and pointing at the scoreboard clock.

You see it had just turned midnight when Counsell scored that run. They just hugged each other in disbelief as the chicken did run at midnight just as Amy had said several years ago. On Amy’s grave stone reads "The Chicken Runs At Midnight."

I want to thank Rich, currently the third base coach for the Milwaukee Brewers for taking the time to relate these facts to me the other night after his game. Rich also told me that there is a video out with the entire story, which has run on several TV stations.

This is an amazing saga. Hopefully, I portrayed it in a manner that Rich would approve. I look forward to seeing the movie. Remember, "The Chicken Runs at Midnight."