By Brad Spencer
Sat down to write this column and three things came to mind, so here you go:
Life-saving day for OPRF coach
What did you do to celebrate St. Patrick's Day? I can't remember either, but OPRF varsity baseball coach Chris Ledbetter won't soon forget what happened to him. Ledbetter saved a man's life.
He was in Elmhurst working the door at his wife's family bar/restaurant when a waitress from another establishment came running down the street asking for a doctor. Ledbetter, who teaches CPR, found Thomas Podock, 54, on the floor not breathing and without a pulse amid a throng of patrons at Jack's Silverado Grill. He performed CPR on Podock, while Jim Geovanes, the freshman baseball coach at OPRF, secured a defibrillator. The 54-year-old Podock, who owns Advanced Auto Works in Lake Villa, was shocked back to life.
"He called me the other day and told me he wanted to give me a big hug when he got out of the hospital," said Ledbetter, who mentioned the incident only in passing last week. "He asked me if that would be OK. I told him, 'Tom, I had my mouth on your mouth, I think a hug would be just fine.'"
The incident marked the second time in Ledbetter's life when he had to put his CPR skills to use. In 2005, during a baseball game at Willowbrook High School, umpire Scott Marengi collapsed with a heart attack in the second inning. Ledbetter tried valiantly to save Marengi, but the 47-year-old died en route to the hospital.
Big opportunity missed
The sweatshirt on this kid, which was as large as a comforter, read "OPRF High School." He was California Redwood tall and just as thick. His body said football player, but he didn't look familiar. I would have noticed this kid on the sidelines — heck, Google satellite maps would notice this kid. We were waiting in line at a store downtown. I inquired. He's a senior, stopped playing football after his sophomore season, said it was due, partly, to the coaching — but he wouldn't elaborate. He's 6-foot-6, 320 pounds.
"There were about 20 of us who quit that season," he said.
"All as big as you?"
"No, but some were," he replied.
"Too bad," I murmured, "too bad."
As I'm sure you're aware, we're in the midst of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Thus far, many of the games have been riveting, mind-boggling and even jaw-dropping. I'm sure Florida State, Butler, Richmond and VCU have disrupted many a bracket. There's no rhyme or reason to making bracket picks. As of now in the Spencer pool, Grandma, 87, is tied for first place with Abigail, 8. Do I sound bitter over a busted bracket?