Tacoma Rainiers manager Pat Listach keeps a jar of candy on his office desk. It’s a reminder that despite the frequent closed-door meetings regarding professional baseball players and their itinerant careers, there’s a time and place for levity.
Listach decided to make the candy jar a permanent piece of his desktop because of Madison Farquhar, daughter of former Rainiers reliever Danny Farquhar.
“Danny used to bring his little girl in here when his wife was pregnant with their second child,” Listach said Monday. “She’d come in for some candy and that’s why the candy is still here. For the kids.”
Since learning that the 31-year old Farquhar suffered a brain aneurysm in the Chigago White Sox dugout Friday night, moments after getting two outs in relief, Listach has been praying for Farquhar and his family. The well-traveled right-hander made 27 appearances for Tacoma in 2015 – Listach’s first season with the Rainiers – and though Farquhar soon would go on to pitch in Seattle, he was in Tacoma long enough to develop a close friendship with the manager.
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“We all know Danny. We had him here and we love him,” said Listach, who shares some Louisiana roots with Farquhar. “He pitched at Southwestern Louisiana, or what’s now called Louisiana-Lafayette. We’ve got a lot of familiar friends, people we’ve crossed paths with.
“Of course, that’s not hard to do in Louisiana.”
In the Pacific Coast League – as in every minor league – players rarely remain with one team for more than a year or two. It would be convenient for Listach to make the farewell chat short and sweet, but he’s got the phone number of everybody he’s managed, as well as those of ex-teammates.
“I’ve still got Phil Hiatt’s number,” said Listach, referring to the utility player who retired in 2001. “I want these guys know that I’m not just here for baseball. I’m here as a person and as a friend.
“I haven’t called Danny yet because he’s just come out of surgery. But maybe his wife will get my message and pass it along.”
Although Farquhar remains in critical condition, updates from Chicago were encouraging Monday, three days after he was reported to be fighting for his life. According to the White Sox, he’s been able to use his extremities and respond to questions and commands from doctors. He’s also communicating with his family, which includes daughter Madison – she’s now 6 – and her two younger brothers.
It is far too early to tell whether Farquhar will recover to the point he’ll ever play baseball again, as fellow brain-surgery survivor John Olerud did. Olerud suffered an aneurysm when he was a student at Washington State, and he went on to enjoy a stellar 18-year career in the big leagues.
“But baseball is not important right now,” said Listach. “Health and family are important right now. Family comes first in this game anyway.
“When he left here, he moved from Louisiana to build a house in California. He’s such a young guy, full of so much energy and life. You hate to see things like this happen.”
Farquhar collapsed without warning. One minute his most urgent concern was the Houston Astros and their relentless lineup, and the next he was unconscious.
The fact Farquhar was competing Friday night may have saved his life. Team trainers and emergency-medical technicians were on hand in the time it takes to snap a finger, and because he happened to be at a Major League park, an ambulance was in place.
An alternative scenario is harrowing. Had Farquhar collapsed upon returning home, he might not have made it to the hospital.
But a brain-hemorrhage victim breathing when he was admitted to the hospital Friday night, and the progress he’s made suggests a tragedy averted. Even if Farquhar has thrown his last pitch, it’s possible he’ll achieve his post-baseball ambition of teaching math.
Meanwhile, recovery figures to be measured less in terms of days than in weeks and months.
“I wish I was a doctor and I could make him healthy overnight, but I didn’t go to medical school,” said Listach. “I went to Arizona State.”
A smile, between prayers.