Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Leader of the Band

Today marks the seventh anniversary of my father’s passing. I don’t know if it’s a Catholic thing, or an Irish thing, or an Irish-Catholic thing, but every year since my grandfather died, we’ve had a mass celebrating his passing, so its ingrained in me to mark such anniversaries in some manner. The Hatcher was actually named after his grandfather, who at the time of my birth knew that he was dying of lung cancer; for the brief time we were both alive that made me Hatcher “the Second”, not a junior, because the name skipped a generation. My father died at the same age as his – 68 – and of the same disease; eighteen months later we (wife of Hatcher and I) named one of my twins after my dad. Like my dad, I have four sons and no juniors, but one son whose name keeps me connected to him. My third son we named Jake, which was my father’s nickname for me, his third son. That’s the closest I’ll come to having a Hatcher Junior.

My dad was a special guy, very humble, with a great sense of humor and a real and genuine interest in the people in his life. He was perhaps the least status-seeking guy I’ve ever come across. Many people in their lives, the Hatcher included, spend a great part of their time and energy trying to convey their own importance to people that they regard as important – they crave a degree of status that is based on impermanent things – the job they hold, the people they befriend, the town they live in, etc. My dad did the same thing, but all the difference lay in whom he regarded as important – his family, both nuclear and extended, his neighborhood, town, and Church, and any kid who ever wanted to hit a baseball. All small town things, and perhaps in the end they don’t add up to an obituary that lands in the New York Times, but I’ll tell you what it did add up to. People stood in line for hours at his wake, lined up outside the Church and rapped around the block; when it began to rain hard, rather than go home, the line was simply moved into the Church. For four plus hours my brothers, my mother, and I, received a steady stream of people who knew and loved my dad. The people in line said they had never seen anything like it. It was a fitting tribute to a man who never sought one. Rest in peace, dad, we miss you!


Blogger Incredible Dirigible said...

Joe Hatch truly was The Man. He was one of the nicest, most coolest guys. His funeral was a fantastic tribute; I hope that when he was alive, he knew how much he touched the people around him; how well he would be remembered. He was a great guy.

RIP, Mr. Hatch.

7:54 AM  
Anonymous Greg Sawka said...

I am one of the guys Joe Hatch taught to hit a baseball. It was my second year in the "minors" of Oaklyn-Bettlewood LL. My first year was spent under the tutelege of another coach who insisted on the player apologizing to him if they struck out. Needless to say, Mr, Hatch used more positive motivational techniques. I am glad to have known him, also was in awe of his funeral and cannot believe that 7 years have gone by already.

9:29 AM  
Anonymous the_giant said...

Mr. Hatch was probably the only one of my friends dad's whom I liked more than my friends themselves.

First, he told way better stories than his 2nd or 3rd sons. Second, he once overlooked his owns sons and brought out 3 beers for myself, HeavyT, and himself. Third, he always had a kind word for every kid, no matter how bad they stunk at anything (I've personally witnessed him sincerely congratulating the Hatcher when it was obvious to all else that he performed miserably).
Fourth, he was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule right before Hatcher's wedding to suck down a beer with a couple of Hatcher's drunken high school buddies (myself and Tri-Eggs included). Finally, he was said to be a much smoother dancer than any of his kids.

All kidding aside, he was a great man. As a father and coach myself, I can only appreciate his kindness and patience more. I am lucky to have known him, and also cannot believe that 7 years have passed.

10:05 AM  

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