The Louisville Baseball team will be missing one of its biggest fans tonight when they start their quest for the College World Series title. Rob Partin was practically part of the team during the teams postseason run last season. He took in batting practice from the dugout. He traveled to Nashville to see then upset rival Vanderbilt, and cheered them on as their season ended in Omaha. No fan enjoyed those games as much as Rob.
I was lucky enough to bump into Rob at the June 2nd match-up against Oklahoma State. He was at the game with his wife Jennifer and his sons Rob Jr. and Will. Rob greeted me with his trademark smile and firm handshake. I couldn't help but blurt out "You look great". Rob had recently been diagnosed with inoperable incurable brain tumor and there's not a chance you would ever know. Not only was Rob upbeat and happy self, his family was all smiles and so happy to be spending the day watching baseball with Rob.
Sometimes we forget how much sports can mean to us. Rob decided to start his final journey by following his favorite baseball team around the country. He and his sons began celebrating his life taking in Rob's favorite sport. Seeing pictures pop up on Facebook of Rob in the stands at Jim Patterson, or outside of Hawkins stadium with his sons became the norm. The Partins became somewhat honorary members of the team. For those few weeks Rob could forget the diagnosis and the pending treatments. He was just a dad watching baseball with his kids. It was almost symbolic for a man who was a fixture at St. Matthews Little League when I first moved to Louisville. Rob and Jennifer were nice enough to set up a special tryout for my brother because we were moving just after the teams had been set. Just an example of his kindness and his spirit.
Rob passed away on March 28th of this year. I am not nearly a gifted enough writer to put into words what kind of man and father Rob was. I know that as a young father myself, I strive to be what he was to his children and grandchildren. This Father's day weekend the Louisville Cardinals will not have Rob Partin in the stands to cheer them on. He will still be in Omaha in a way.
When a team loses a player the team customarily hangs the players jersey in the dugout as homage. Louisville Slugger has honored Rob by hanging a jersey in their tent in Omaha. It is a simple gesture that has such a symbolic meaning on this particular weekend. A great father that won't be able to join his children in cheering on the baseball team, but will be there in much more than spirit.