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Playing for Laughs
Steve Rushin
September 21, 1992
ANDY VAN SLYKE, THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES' DECIDEDLY OFF-CENTER CENTERFIELDER, MAY SOON BE A CLOWN WITH A BATTING CROWN
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September 21, 1992

Playing For Laughs

ANDY VAN SLYKE, THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES' DECIDEDLY OFF-CENTER CENTERFIELDER, MAY SOON BE A CLOWN WITH A BATTING CROWN

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It was only later that Van Slyke remembered elbowing away the paramedic who was stationed by the ambulance. Inside, the father was elated to see his son's eyes rolling around in his head. Jared was breathing. After a single night in the hospital, he was back to normal. It was the boy's parents who were changed.

"I hate to use the word miracle" says Lauri, "but both Andy and I definitely feel like the Lord wasn't ready to let Jared go."

"Let me put it to you this way," says a somber Van Slyke, who, you must know by now, has his own take on all things. "If Jared had died, it would have been like a nail being driven into a two-by-four." He pauses, and his voice softens. "There would have been terrible pain and anguish. If you pull the nail out, there is still a hole. But my belief in Jesus Christ is such that he would have filled that hole. Jesus would have been the wood putty."

He couldn't have said it better if he had been Andy Van Slyke. Poignant, clever and nothing if not hopeful, the quote also has a little smack of humor. Donnelly knows why Van Slyke sees life down a sight line all his own. "Andy is just visiting here," explains the Pirate coach. "In two years they're going to call him back to wherever it is he came from."

And when he is gone, baseball will be left with a hole larger than the one between the shortstop and second baseman. When Van Slyke finally is beamed up, baseball had best have plenty of wood putty.

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