On Christmas Eve three years ago, TASO lost a very special member. Tim Head, who had been president of the TASO Baseball Division, Chairman of the TASO Board and president of the Alliance Baseball chapter, was killed in a traffic accident. Tim was also a few years into what would have become a very successful football officiating career in the TASO Fort Worth Football chapter.
In honor of Tim, the Tim Head Award was established as the highest honor that the Baseball Division could bestow. Last Saturday, at the 2013 TASO Baseball Annual Meeting, the first Tim Head Award was presented to George Coit. George just completed two terms as Baseball President, and has served TASO and the Baseball Division many ways over the years.
The award ceremony was especially moving as Tim's wife, Amy, was on hand to personally present George the award. Congratulations George, on a well deserved award, and thanks to Amy for taking the time to be there. Tim would be pleased.
The Audie McDonald Story
In January of 1985 TASO Baseball Beaumont Umpire Steve McDonald’s daughter, Audie, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. She has been battling this disease and the dramatic side effects of multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation since.
In 1988 she was a patient in M.D. Anderson Hospital. During one extended stay that summer she was visited by the Astros rookie catcher.
This was Craig Biggio’s rookie year and he had only been with the Astros for a few weeks. He was hardly famous. As a matter of fact, while he was sitting on Audie’s hospital bed with her, Steve told his wife that he wasn't a real Astros player but he was probably some kid in their farm system. He looked like a teenager at the time. Then he introduced himself and Steve recognized his name as the new catcher the Astros had just brought up.
Biggio then went back to Steve’s daughter’s bedside and continued to play a Sesame Street game with her. She was only three years old. He interacted with her like she was his long-time friend or even a close relative.
After that encounter, Steve always told Audie that she was "friends" with Craig Biggio. She became a HUGE fan and watched every Astros game on TV.
At 12 years old, Audie was facing another very dangerous operation on her spine as a result of the disease spreading. Before the scheduled operation, Steve offered Audie anything he could give her. She asked for a trip to the Astros Spring Training Camp to see her "friend". Her wish was Steve’s command so he took his whole family to Kissimmee, Florida to see a game. They were even lucky enough to get Craig Biggio's autograph afterwards. Audie was ecstatic.
The next day, the McDonald family went to Disney World. While in the restroom, Steve recognized Craig Biggio. Steve waited on Biggio outside and was able to quickly tell him this story and how much he meant to Audie. Biggio insisted that he go talk to her! Steve tried to explain that it wasn't necessary and realized he was with his own family trying to enjoy a day off at the amusement park. Biggio would have none of it!
Steve and Biggio found the McDonald family in line for a ride. Biggio got into the line with Audie and talked with her for several minutes until it was her time to board the ride. Steve apologized to Biggio’s wife for interrupting their day but she said "No, that is just who he is."… Wow!
Biggio was famous to Astros fans at the time but he could easily get around Disney World without being noticed. So he was not doing any of this for the benefit of a camera!
Craig Biggio has always made a point to hug Audie whenever she attended an event he attended. Steve’s son, Connor, and Biggio's son, Conor, played against each other in several baseball games over the years.
When some of our fellow TASO members (Tim Summers, Terry Falgout and Dwayne Champagne) had the opportunity, they contacted Coach Jimmy Neale at Kelly High School and asked if they could do something special for Audie when Coach Craig Biggio brought his St. Thomas team to town. It was arranged for her to bring out the game ball and meet with Coach Biggio at the plate conference. Coach Biggio gave her another hug plus an autographed ball from his entire team. The April 16, 2013 Kelly vs. St. Thomas game was named, "Audie McDonald Day".
At 28 years old, Audie continues her fight with health and developmental problems. She may face additional brain surgery this summer.
But for now, she and her family are beyond happy! She is friends with Craig Biggio a Real Hero! And TASO Baseball Beaumont Chapter Umpire Steve McDonald, "You also are a Real Hero" !
Cliff Keen Athletic National Alliance Program for TASO members
The Texas Association of Sports Officials (TASO) and Cliff Keen Athletic have announced an agreement that would allow TASO members a substantial discount off of every item purchased through the Cliff Keen website. For TASO members to claim the discount, go to the to the Cliff Keen Athletic web site (www.cliffkeen.com) and click on the “Officials” link near the top of the page. Select your items and at the checkout page enter “the TASO National Alliance Program special pricing account number” txtaso152, in the Promotional Code field. The National Alliance Program discount is available through on line purchases only at this time. TO go directly to the Cliff Keen website, click HERE