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RADCLIFF — The game of baseball and fathers and sons. In the words of words of Forrest Gump, the two go together like peas and carrots. Tim and Paul Pickerrell share a special bond because of the game of baseball. It's been that way as long as Paul can remember According to Paul, Tim was a three-year starter at catcher for Elizabethtown. Tim was part of the 1975 team, which won the state championship. Paul said, “He points the banner out every time we go in E’town’s gym.” Paul is a freshman catcher for the John Hardin Bulldogs. He played more and more as an eighth-grader as the season went along, and this year he has moved from second base to behind the plate, following in the footsteps of his father. This season, though, has been unlike any other for the Pickerrells. Tim coached Paul in the EABC leagues and in travel baseball growing up. Even though he wasn’t part of the John Hardin coaching staff, Tim was still there to tutor his son whenever he needed help. “Sometimes I can look over at him and he can give me a hint of what I need to do,” Paul said. “He’s always been there for me.” But like I said, this season is not like the rest. Tim is part of the Kentucky National Guard, and right now, he is stationed in Afghanistan. Tim was home for two weeks during baseball season, but Paul said it “wasn’t enough.” Thanks to the advances in technology, Paul and his mother, Karen, communicate with Tim by e-mail and phone. Paul said the family has a web cam so they can see Tim when he does call. The calls are usually short and sweet, no more than 10 minutes at a time, and the family doesn’t know when the calls are going to come. The e-mails come on a regular basis and Paul is quick to send a few lines to Tim after every game, but it’s still not the same. “I know it kills him not to be here, because we both love baseball,” Paul said. “I try to feed off his attitude. He sends me tips and quotes in e-mails all the time. I try to do good things for him.” Paul has no doubt made his father proud. He is batting .358 with two doubles. He has scored 10 runs and driven in five. Those are good numbers by any standard, but considering this is a freshman doing this, it makes them even better. The hardest part might have been earlier in the season when Paul was going through a funk at the plate. Tim knows his son’s swing better than anyone and could have fixed it in a matter of minutes. The two have spent countless hours together, working in the batting cages and throwing in the backyard. Paul, though, had to do this one on his own. “It was hard,” Paul said. “I had to step up my game and teach myself what I was doing wrong. I had to get my swing where it needed to be. Once I got my confidence up, everything was fine.” Paul said this past week Tim has been fired upon several times, making for some tense times. With what his father’s been going through, Paul has refused to let it affect his school work (he has a 4.0 GPA) or his play on the baseball field. “He hadn’t let it be a factor,” John Hardin coach Adam Lindsey said when asked if Paul has shown any signs of his father being away affecting his play. Paul will take the field today in the 17th District Tournament semifinals. There will be a void in the stands every time Paul looks over for his father, but Paul, who is wise well beyond his years, realizes his father is serving a greater purpose. Tim’s last quote he sent his son is hanging in his locker. It’s from legendary coach Vince Lombardi. It reads, “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.” Paul takes the words to heart as if they didn’t come from an e-mail, but straight from his father’s lips. Despite being on opposite sides of the world, baseball still brings the Pickerrells together.
Chuck Jones is the sports editor for The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at 505-1759 or at firstname.lastname@example.org