Spread like wildfire


As a daughter of a baseball coach, sister of a baseball star, and wife of a gold glover, I’ve spent more than a little time watching America’s greatest pastime. I’ve cheered for plenty of record-breakers, tiebreakers, and heartbreakers, but my favorite was when a fire broke out in right field.

It was during the playoffs of 2013. The Double-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers (the Erie Seawolves) were playing the Washington National’s team, the Harrisburg Senators. By playoff time in September, athletes are exhausted and wives of players are spent—both longing for rest and the familiarity of home and family… and a little fun.

The sun was shining, the lake was sparkling, and nuisance bugs were everywhere in Erie (Kentuckians can relate). My husband, Wade, manned third base for the Seawolves. In the sixth inning, the score was something like 2 to 2, and some unusual excitement sizzled in the Senator’s bullpen. Soon, the pitchers were waving wildly and pouring out of the pen.

Some people don’t enjoy baseball because they think the action is too slow. Not me, I’ve always enjoyed the pace. There’s just long enough between every pitch to people-watch (my favorite pastime).

It was hard not to notice the pitchers from Harrisburg flailing about and using their jackets as extinguishers. The motley crew had been busy spraying bug-repellant, lighting it on fire, and watching it fizzle out in the dirt. Apparently, this is not uncommon behavior for a bored bullpen.

One blaze got out of control. As fire began to spread across right field of Jerry Uht Park, players rushed from their positions with the zeal of amateur firefighters. After a few seconds of stomping flames and igniting the crowd’s enthusiasm, the game resumed. Oh, and the Seawolves won!

This past weekend, a more reserved but equally zealous group gathered in Elizabethtown for the annual Kentucky Christian Writers Conference. Bookish celebrities, such as conference keynote and USA Today bestselling author Susan May Warren, shared testimony and tips for living and writing with a bigger purpose.

The theme of the event, “Spread Like Wildfire,” was a prayer that words shared—both written and spoken—will encourage and inspire humanity. That love and kind words will spread like wildfire… and I think they will.

But now that I know about the flammable effects of bug spray, benevolence at the speed of Bug-Off is pretty good, too.

Neena Gaynor is a Kentucky wife, mother, daughter and beekeeper who does life in Owensboro. She also writes on her blog at and can be reached via email at


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