HUDSON — Attendees of the Sept. 12 Hudson Chamber of Commerce luncheon were treated to a unique brand of humor and inspiration from guest speaker Sharon Hargrove, wife of former Cleveland Indians manager Mike Hargrove.
Hargrove regaled her 65 listeners at Lake Forest Country Club with stories about being a mother of five; grandmother of 13; and wife of a Major League Baseball player and manager. She said that although her husband missed a lot of family functions (but not one wedding), he proved through the years that he has always loved his family more than baseball.
She proceeded to ask for a show of hands if anyone in the audience was married to an MLB manager whose team went to the World Series twice.
"Have you made over 100 moves? Lived in 23 different cities in 13 different states? Married 25 years before you were under the same roof for a full year? Wrote a book? Done a radio show?" Sharon asked.
Mike Hargrove was with the Indians organization as a player and then a coach for 20 years, before being let go in 1999. He also played for the Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres before coming to Cleveland. After Cleveland, he managed the Baltimore Orioles and the Seattle Mariners. He resigned as the Mariners' manager 10 years ago. Since 2011, Mike has been employed by the Cleveland Indians as a special advisor for the team.
The Hargroves are true-blue Tribe fans, Sharon said, and they are loving how well the team is playing right now.
"Somebody asked me once if I was enjoying this ride ... and I said, 'Absolutely,' but the best part is I'm not a nervous wreck," she said. "When we were in the middle of it, we were in the middle of it. And it's kind of fun now not having people ask us for tickets or questions about anything."
She went on to describe personal situations that hit a bit closer to home. She has five children, one with epilepsy. A couple in the crowd said they, too, had a child with epilepsy.
"It's not fun, is it?" Sharon asked.
She also asked if anyone has a daughter who got pregnant out of wedlock.
"Well, you won't admit it, but I will. Not fun," she said.
"I'm just trying to say we are all created differently but, I think, we are all created by the same God," Hargrove said. "And there's a reason we are all together today. I think with everything that's going on in the world, every day is a blessing and everything we get to do is for a reason."
Recognizing her audience comprised primarily business professionals on their lunch hour, Hargrove asked that they try not to rush through their time together.
"It's just fun to be alive on a beautiful day," she said. "We're not dealing with floods or hurricanes or forest fires. We're just in Hudson, Ohio, and that's exactly where we're supposed to be. And there's a reason that we're here and we need to try to remember that other people need us."
Hargrove said she met Mike in junior high in their hometown of Perryton, Texas, population 7,000. As they began attending college and planning their lives together, they decided they both wanted to become teachers so they could have their summers off.
"Our plan was always different from God's plan for us," she said.
She talked about how little money they had when they got married, and held up handwritten budgets they made when Mike was drafted by the Texas Rangers.
Sharon said Mike was not the best player when he started with the Rangers, but he soon got better. But as things improved in their own lives together, her father's health grew steadily worse. She said before her father died, he thanked her for making him a grandfather and giving him the chance to be a better grandparent than he was a parent.
"Tell people how you feel about them," Sharon's father told her. "He said, 'I shouldn't have waited until I was on my deathbed to tell your mother and you kids how much you mean to me and how much I love you.'"
The third thing he told her was, "Don't have a good thought in your head and not share it."
Hargove said too often we miss an opportunity to pay someone a compliment.
"And when someone compliments you, say, 'Thank you,'" she said.
"Losing my daddy was hard, but it had a positive impact on my life," she said. When her father died, Mike's manager at the time, Billy Martin, said he couldn't miss a game to attend the funeral because the death wasn't his own father.
"That's how baseball was back then," she said.
The funeral, however, was rescheduled so that Mike could attend.
As they stood in the cemetery, Sharon said she saw Mike look at his watch. Just as she was about to threaten to push him into the open grave, she said, Mike whispered that he might get reprimanded — but that he wasn't going back to the team that night because she needed him.
"That's when I knew baseball was only his livelihood — and not his life," she said.