CD's Connect the Dots...Angels On The Board

This story will not be of Pat Gillick's latest potential trading partners, nor of Ryan Howard's chances for 40 home runs. Rather this story will be of yet another member of the Phillie family, albeit one less well known. This story is about Jeff Lamana and the countless Phillie phans who have reached out to him in his time of need. It is a heartwarming story of friendship and of caring and of love. And, mostly, of "angels on the board."

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote that "we all belong to each other, but friendship is the special accord of one life with a kindred life." In his time of greatest need, Jeff Lamana, the owner and editor of Philaphans, a website dedicated to his love of Philadephia sports, is discovering that his kindred life is shared by many Phillie phans from all walks of life. That this should occur is as much a tribute to Jeff as it is the countless concerned friends who are determined to help him in any way possible.

I do not know Jeff Lamana personally but people I do know speak of him in glowing terms. He and his wife, Adina, recently received the devastating news that he had cancer and would need four weeks of daily radiation chemotherapy in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Jeff, who resides in Hazelton, Pennsylvania. was without the financial resources to afford a place in Lancaster to stay while receiving his daily chemotherapy.

Phillie phans from everywhere immediately jumped "on board" to help with donations pouring in from everywhere. Some knew Jeff well while others were just people who enjoy his site and wish to help a "friend" in need. Word began to spread at other Phillies websites and soon Adina was overjoyed to announce that Jeff had received enough donations to allow him to stay in Lancaster during his treatments.

Jeff marveled at the passion of the people who reached out to him and called them the "angels on the board", no doubt referring to all the Phillie phans who frequent his site. Angels, indeed, and a tale that every Phil phanatic can well be proud of. In a time of great need, there was a time of great and immediate response.

Still, if this story were a baseball game it would be viewed as a contest in the early innings of the game. Jeff will begin his treatments next week and they will take place for 28 consecutive days. He will no doubt need plenty of prayer and well wishes. He will have much going for him, a loving wife, caring friends and his mother and caregiver, Rose Lamana.

And he will have his angels, otherwise known as Phillies phans. There is perhaps no more misunderstood character in all of sports than a Phillies phan. Criticized as ruthless, made infamous for booing Santa Claus, and long considered one of the toughest towns in all of sport to play in, Philadelphia is rather a city that shows it cares through the very passion it displays.

Philadelphia is no Los Angeles, where the people arrive late and leave early. It is no New York, where style is preferred over substance. And it is no Chicago, where two teams and two leagues divide the loyalties of the city. Rather, Philadelphia is a hardened city, always hoping for the best while expecting the worst in its baseball team. Plainly speaking, it is a city accustomed and prepared for losing, but never once accepting of it.

It is a city that witnessed a 23 game losing streak in 1961, still the longest in modern professional baseball history. It is a city that saw a pennant won become a pennant lost in 1964 when a six-and-one-half game lead disappeared faster than you could say Gene Mauch, to the tune of a ten game losing streak. This is still considered the greatest collapse in baseball history. It is a city that withstood Black Friday, Joe Carter's series ending home run and a list of forgettable baseball managers that range from John Felske to Bob Skinner.

At it's core lies the Phillie phan, tough, knowledgeable and caring. And did I say passionate. A Phillie phan is nothing if not passionate and it was this passion that reached out to Jeff Lamana in his time of crisis. It is a trait that is both honorable and rare. Like angels. Jeff Lamana's "angels on the board."

No doubt this story will continue to touch the hearts of Phillie "angels" everywhere. Jeff Lamana is a kindred life, he could be you, or you, or me. And what greater gift can we give ourselves during this special season of giving than to know that we became "angels" also, if only for a moment. His needs continue to be great. He needs your thoughts and prayers. He needs your best wishes. If you wish to send him a get well card, you can email him at Jeff@Philaphans.com.

You can lift the spirits of his wife, Adina, by sending her a well wish at ajklass@gmail.com. Better yet, you can send a donation of any amount to:

Jeff Lamana
93 N. Pinetree Road
Hazelton, PA 18201

This story has special relevance to me for one very important reason. A few years ago, we all lost a dear and loyal Phillie phan suddenly to a heart attack. His name was Tom Clark, or Top Cat Tom to those on Phillies message boards. He was my friend, someone who conversed with me by phone every Saturday, save for one. Unfortunately for me, I thoughtlessly failed to call him on the last Saturday before he passed away, something I regret even to this day.

The column I wrote about Tom Clark, an "angel on the board" if ever there lived one, was written too little, too late. Not so Jeff Lamana. He is very much alive and with continued support from the Phillie community, he will be back on the job soon, writing and editing at Philaphans.com. This is his passion.

That will be a great day, a day when we can once again talk about Pat Gillick's latest trading partner, or Brett Myer's current contract negotiations. A day when we can all discuss Ryan Madson's conversion to the starting rotation or the chances of Ryan Howard hitting 40 home runs. Jeff Lamana is one of us, a kindred life, whose sports world revolves around Phillies baseball.

No doubt, that day will come soon, hastened on by the people whose very passion for baseball make's Jeff's job such a labor of love...all his Phillie phans, the "angels on the board."

Columnist's Note: Please send all questions and comments to allenariza@earthlink.net and I will respond. Thank you! CD from the Left Coast


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