By Doug Halberstadt
I’m fully aware as a sports writer for this paper, a major part of my responsibility is to report on local stories. I make a conscious effort each week to try to come up with a story or column that has a local angle. Sometimes I’m successful, other times I have to rely on the sporting news that is happening on a statewide or even national level. The following story is currently unfolding in the Dallas area. Albeit a very sad story, it is one I felt was compelling and needed to be shared.
Sunday, Aug. 14, Lt. Todd Krodle, a 17-year veteran of the Dallas Fire Department, died in the line of duty after falling through the roof of an apartment building. Krodle, who was 41, left behind a wife and two children.
This story is about the son he left behind: Cade Krodle. Cade is a 12-year-old boy who loves the game of baseball. He plays for the Caddo Mills Angels in a small town outside of Dallas. Cade’s dad was an assistant coach for that team. Like many fathers and sons across America, baseball formed a bond between the two.
A couple of years ago, Cade and his dad went to a Texas Rangers game in nearby Arlington, Texas. Following the game, they happened to be joined in an elevator by Hall of Fame pitcher and now part owner of the team, Nolan Ryan.
The younger Krodle immediately recognized his hero, but was so in awe that he couldn’t speak. Ryan broke the ice by commenting about the glove the youngster was wearing. He said it was similar to one he once used. It was at that moment Cade began reciting facts and figures about “Mr. Ryan.” The Hall of Famer was so impressed that he asked the Krodles if they’d like to go out on the field for a game of catch. Of course, they accepted the generous offer.
Not only did they toss the ball around with Ryan, but another hero of Cade’s joined the trio, Rangers All-Star Josh Hamilton. That was the beginning of a friendship among Ryan, Hamilton and Cade that continues to this day. The Krodles have returned to several Rangers games and have maintained communication with Ryan, Hamilton and the rest of the team.
After hearing of last week’s tragic accident involving firefighter Krodle, Ryan and the Rangers have invited Cade to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in this Saturday’s (Aug. 27) game against the Los Angeles Angels. By request, Cade will be tossing that first pitch to his friend, Hamilton.
I salute Ryan, Hamilton and the entire Rangers ball team for reaching out to the Krodle family in their time of sorrow. Granted, they can never make up for a boy losing his father; however, I’m confident their gesture will ease some of the younger Krodle’s pain and grief.
Saturday, when Cade strides up onto that pitcher’s mound in the center of the Rangers’ infield, I’m pretty sure the only thing he’ll be focused on is Hamilton’s glove.
And during those moments when he’s staring in at his target, all of the other eyes in Texas Stadium will be focused directly on him, including those of one proud fallen firefighter.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Aug. 24-30, 2011, issue