SPRINGFIELD, Mo —  “I could throw this flip phone halfway across this field, and I would have zero problems with it still functioning.”

To this day, I’m still perplexed by that statement made from Ethan Bryan.  

It was an interesting conversation we had on the 1st week of January. Surely flip phones shouldn’t exist in 2018, I thought to myself, and baseball doesn’t belong on a 20 degree day in January.

Ethan disagrees on both sentiments wholeheartedly.

“So how many throws do you think that was?” he asked me after about 15 minutes. “It’s definitely the longest game of catch I have played so far.”His bright blue Royal’s knit cap could be seen from downtown, I’m sure. Almost as out of place as my bright red jacket, and the audible sounds of popping coming from our gloves. 

It was after one of those thuds that reality hit me: I was playing catch a complete stranger.

A Simple Question: I was reluctant to meet up with Springfield-native Ethan Bryan at first. Initially for my arms sake. This poor right-hander hasn’t thrown a baseball since college.

But also because, well, it’s not every day that you get a Twitter message from a complete stranger.

“Crazy question” he wrote. “You up for a game of catch?”

I agreed.

“It’s not an official resolution, but I’m pretty committed to it already,” he said as he began to explain his reasoning behind the goal.

“I played catch with my daughters the 1st day, then my other daughter on the 2nd day.” That’s when he began to take it seriously.

He then played catch with a friend from Kansas City, a then one he knew from church.

That was the 1st time he played catch with a Cardinals fan.

I was the 5th. And yes, I was forthright on my love for the Arizona Diamondbacks.The Irony in this story is that Ethan, the flip-phone user, has done a majority of his outreach on social media.

He has tweeted requests to the likes of Springfield News-Leader’s Steve Pokin, Fire Chief David Pennington, and State Representative Crystal Quade.

His efforts have even caught the attention of Major League Baseball on their website, Cut4.

“It gets us away from phones, it gets us away from screens, and it gets us to sharing life with real people.”

“You get to hear stories and make new friends. I think that is incredibly important.”

“As I get older, I realize the importance of things like this more. We live so distracted. There’s so much power is just being here, because this is where the best stuff happens.”

Now that is a statement, unlike the one about baseball belonging in January, that I can finally agree with.

Getting Involved: Ethan is an author and has been blogging about his experiences every day playing catch.

He is also very active on his Twitter account if you dare on taking up his offer for “a game of catch”