Safe at Home

June 25, 2007 — Leave a comment

Last week, on our way home from Summer in the Son at Kentucky Christian University, we stopped at my in-laws’ house in Elizabethton, Tennessee.

While sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch, enjoying the cool breeze and the sight of my kids playing beneath the large magnolia tree as the evening made its way across the mountains, I met Larry “Moe” Riddle for the first time. His picture was on the cover of the Elizabethton Star above a story on his life.

I never met–or saw–Moe while he was alive and–after reading about him–I feel cheated.

Moe was a huge fan of the Elizabethon Twins (farm team for the Minnesota Twins) and was famous for both his on-field and off-field antics.

In an article in the The Elizabethton Star Greg Miller and Wes Holtsclaw wrote:

Moe had several traditions at the ballpark. Among the most popular were his trips around the bases during the seventh-inning stretch.
“When he was healthy enough,” Mains said, Riddle “would get at home plate and he would pull his pants up and he’d run the bases. First, second, third and home. And as soon as he crossed home, he would take the hat off…and then he’d go on.”
Moe’s base-running antics became so popular Appalachian League umpires often played tricks on him by calling him out at home plate. Moe would argue with them like he were a Major League manager until they reversed their call.
“He used to run the bases and he’d get to third base and turn like he was going home. If the ump called him out, he’d put on a show,” Dugger said. “They got so they called him safe all the time.”
During the fourth and fifth inning of games, Riddle would visit fans in the stands and collect quarters.
About the fourth or fifth inning of the games, Mains recalls, Riddle would say, ” ‘I’m going to pass the cup.’ He would go through the stands and they would give him a quarter, sometimes a dollar. He would come back and a lot of times I would help him and sometimes others. We would count his money and he would put it in his back pocket. We thought that was it. Later on in the same game, he would empty the cup out in his back pocket and there he would go again. That was a comical sight.”
Moe wouldn’t settle for anything less than a quarter. Twins Director of Minor League Operations Jim Rantz found that out the hard way.

In another article on Moe, Wes Holtsclaw wrote:

Moe was honored one final time at his favorite hangout Thursday evening with a fitting memorial service at Joe O’Brien Field.
From his favorite Elvis song to returning everyone’s quarter, the ceremony was simply, well, Moe. Those who paid their respects to Riddle were treated with a special video filled with memories of the Twins’ number one fan. Photos of Riddle and his family, including his beloved late mother Irene, were accompanied by portraits of Moe at the ballpark. When visitors paid their respects at Riddle’s casket, they were given a quarter. A token of honor from a man who likely raised more money than anyone in Elizabethton history at Riverside Stadium during the fourth and fifth inning of home games. Folks were also asked to sign the casket before passing Riddle, who was fitted in his Elizabethton Twins uniform.

In another article on Moe, Wes Holtsclaw wrote: “Like the old shirt used to read, Larry “Moe” Riddle knew Elizabethton Twins baseball. Now he knows Jesus.”

Congratulations Moe! I can’t wait to meet you–face to face–when I make it safely home, too.

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