The Chicken Runs At Midnight: A Daughter's Message From Heaven That Changed a Father's Heart and Won a World Series
: Rich Donnelly was a minor league catcher who never quite got the chance to play in the big leagues. So he became obsessed with reaching the Major Leagues as a coach. While climbing the ladder to his dream job...
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Rich Donnelly was a minor league catcher who never quite got the chance to play in the big leagues. So he became obsessed with reaching the Major Leagues as a coach. While climbing the ladder to his dream job as third base coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he became mostly an absentee father who was eventually divorced by his wife. Worse yet, he had a falling out with his only daughter, Amy, who was unafraid to tell her father where he fell short and how he could improve.
Then it happened. In March of 1992, seventeen-year-old Amy called her dad to tell him she was going to have brain surgery. A tumor had been found. In October, Rich invited her to Game Five of the 1992 NLCS between the Pirates and the Atlanta Braves. That's when an unlikely cheer was born. From the stands, Amy observed her dad yelling instructions to the runners on second base and jokingly asked him afterwards if he was telling them, "The chicken runs at midnight." The saying stuck. In late January of 1993, Amy died, but not before her dad and her three brothers had let the battle cry be etched into their lives. It stood for never giving in. It stood for challenging your obstacles. It stood for Amy.
Rich renewed his life of faith, speaking out for God and what he could do in a person's life if the person paid attention. Four years later, in 1997, after Coach Donnelly had become third base coach for the Florida Marlins, he and his sons brought the battle cry of the chicken with them. That year, the Marlins reached the World Series against Cleveland, a classic that culminated with a seventh game that went extra innings. And the Marlins won that final game when a player nicknamed "Chicken" crossed home plate at exactly twelve midnight. The chicken had run at midnight.
The Chicken Runs at Midnight will make you thrill to victory, believe in hope, stand up to cheer for what is good in peoples' lives, and conclude that God can work in the life of any person, even through his mistakes, even when he's not paying attention, even when he thinks it's too late to turn around.
Tom Friend is a feature writer, columnist, director and commentator who has worked for ESPN, the New York Times , the Washington Post , the Los Angeles Times , the Kansas City Star , the San Jose Mercury News and the National Sports Daily . He has had multiple stories reprinted in the anthology The Best American Sports Writing, and his TV version of The Chicken Runs at Midnight --which he reported and wrote for ESPN--was nominated for a 2016 Sports Emmy. A graduate of the University of Missouri and a native of Washington, D.C., he lives in Southern California with his wife and two children.