Allan Simpson wrote a great story yesterday about his long time friendship and relationship with John Wylde. Most everyone knows by now that John passed away early Monday morning after a long battle with cancer. He leaves behind many baseball friends, all of who could write their own stories about their respect and love for John Wylde. He has touched so many and will always be remembered in very special ways.
I first met John Wylde several years ago after hearing so much about him from people like Tom Battista and Dan Kennedy. Tom, now a scouting supervisor for the Atlanta Braves, worked for us at Perfect Game and was the first to recommend we do an event in the Cape area. Dan still works for us today as the Perfect Game Northeast Director. Both Tom and Dan spoke so highly of John Wylde I figured I had to see for myself what was so special about this guy. I made the trip to Wareham for the first PG Northeast Top Prospect Showcase and met John Wylde. After finally meeting John, the Northeast Top Prospect became one of my favorite Perfect Game events to attend each year.
Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to meet many celebrated sports figures. Some that most would like, some that most people would dislike. Meeting John, the very first thing that impressed me was just how polite and professional he was. Most impressive was that he gave you the feeling that he absolutely loved being where he was… at the baseball field. He treated everyone with so much respect, almost to the point you did not want to disappoint him.
He spent every minute at the ball park while the event was going on, keeping score and running the microphone. He would show up early the next morning with all the statistics compiled from the previous day. He treated our event the same way he treated everything… as something extremely important. He never asked for anything in return for basically running the show for us. More importantly he gave us the impression that he enjoyed every moment from early morning until late at night. I would spend most of the time up in the press box with John. The reason for that was simple… I really enjoyed being around the guy. He could make anyone around him feel important. The old time scouts and college coaches would all come up to the press box to say hello to John. Coaches from all over the country knew John through baseball, but it was obvious the respect they had for him went far beyond baseball.
I remember sitting in the press box with Joe Walsh and Matt Hyde from Harvard. Joe is the well respected long time coach at Harvard and Matt is now a scouting supervisor with the Yankees. John was a graduate of Harvard and here I was, a nobody from Iowa, surrounded by all these “HAHVAD” people. Uncertain thoughts crossed my mind about being in way over my head. However, before long, as always seems to happen around baseball people, the stories started flying and everyone became nothing more than simple baseball nuts. Here we were a bunch of adults, acting like teenagers, laughing to the point of tears about a variety of subjects. John was laughing so hard that his faced strained hard, it had to hurt, as he went to announce the next player. Then he turned off the Mike and started laughing out loud again. A foul ball went into the crowd and John strained again to keep from laughing and then professionally announced something like… “It would be greatly appreciated if spectators would be so kind and return all foul balls to the field. We thank you so much for your cooperation and kindness” … I thought, I’ve never heard anyone announce something like that so politely, but then again I had never been around anyone quite like John Wylde. Of course we heard that same message many times and people actually returned far more baseballs than usual. John was in charge of everything and he did it in such a way that everyone was very happy, especially us, that he was there.
Dan Kennedy called a couple weeks ago with some great news at the time. Reports were that John’s cancer might be in remission. This was met with much happiness for those of us who knew John. Then the very sad news came yesterday that John had passed away during the night. John Wylde is a name and a man that many might not recognize, but an absolute legend to the many others who were lucky enough to have known him.
Joe Walsh (Harvard) is one of the coaches we see several times each year at baseball events. There is no question of the close friendship he has had with John Wylde. When John was first diagnosed with liver cancer in the fall of 2007, Joe called me up and sadly gave me the news. He then would call me occasionally just to let me know how John was doing. When I would see Joe in Georgia or Florida he stopped, not to talk so much about recruiting or even baseball, but to tell me how John was doing. Last year about this time Joe Walsh told me that John’s only wish was he wanted to make it through the next Cape Cod season. It was a struggle, John battled hard, but he did make it through that season last year and unfortunately for all who have ever known him it was to be his last season. Then again… Somehow you just know, he will still be watching over things in Wareham and the Cape Cod League.
Before the 2008 Cape Cod season started last year someone from the Wareham organization contacted us about being a sponsor. The 2008 season was dedicated to John Wylde so there was no doubt but that we wanted to participate. Our marketing people designed an ad to place in the Gateman program. Like most ads it was a thank you to John Wylde, it was attractive, but it also advertised our business. Some of us thought it looked a bit too much like a normal business advertisement and that wasn’t our reason for wanting to participate. So we decided to make it real simple and to the point. Some of us in the office got together and put together the most unattractive ad ever, but it came from the very bottom of our heart. I think it speaks volumes about our feelings for John Wylde… The same feelings that many others share about… A True Legend!
It was a full page ad with no art work at all. It simply said the following….
To the nicest man we have met during
all our travels across the country. We
pay you our highest compliment.
YOU HAVE BEEN GREAT
FOR THE GAME OF BASEBALL
Thank you so much for everything