Once we learned Hall of Famer Jim "Catfish" Hunter was in a bad way with ALS, we opted to support his fledgling foundation. Our advance man, Rich Bellis, drove to meet Jim and his wife Helen to help arrange logistics in this small farm town. Upon departing, Helen handed Bellis two cabbages.
Because Jim had lost use of his arms, we had a custom neon sign with a pedal switch made for him. The sign featured a bear peering over a giant baseball with the message Bear Swamp Hunt Club written in big block letters and rush-shipped it to the hospital. A flood prevented UPS from getting there in time.
After discussing whether we should cancel our visit or attend, we were urged to show up. A month later we arrived and used the family’s machine shop for evening events. Prior to his passing, Jim made arrangement to buy us a keg, which we went through in one night.
"He would have loved you guys," Helen Hunter said. "He’d have been right in there with you."
We pick up Tommy Harrell, a vegetable farmer and close friend of Jimmy's, as a stray. Tommy has been with us ever since.
Johnny G was hospitalized after a bathtub fall due to oversoaping. Johnny G and Doney had married sisters—and divorced sisters—setting a team record that seems easier to match than beat. Johnny G introduced Doney to his wife's sister, so the burden to bear for that one weighs totally on his shoulders.
Johnny G recalls what happened: "I had to be wheeled out on a stretcher, butt up in the air because I was in so much pain. They gave me some drugs in the emergency room, but no one was there to take me back to the hotel, so I had to get a taxi. The taxi already had one other person in the car, and we had to drop them off before they could take me back to the hotel."
"I was in tons of pain. What an adventure!"
Johnny G also reflected on the No Bats brotherhood. "One of the best moments was in (the early years) Dodgertown, when I wasn't going to go because I was going through my divorce."
The club made sure Johnny G showed up.
"I remember playing in left field and realized I was going to be okay. All the guys were so helpful, and I remember George Simmons telling me about his divorce, and how he had to sleep on a small twin bed in an apartment he had rented; and how awful it was…but he survived it all. It gave me hope."