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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Friday, February 14, 2003
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

Unsinkable LeClair ready for baseball

Replay Monday's BRIAN BAILEY SHOW, which aired on WCZI 98.3 FM.  Listen...


Former East Carolina coach Keith LeClair can’t wait for baseball season. His seat is reserved, just down the first base line.

ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, has taken its toll on LeClair. The former Pirate skipper, though, fights on, day by day.

LeClair will be honored this weekend for his work in increasing awareness about ALS at the second annual Field of Dreams Gala in Durham on Saturday night — but LeClair won't be there, because he’s planning on watching his Pirates against Western Carolina this weekend.

I visited LeClair this week for a story that we aired on Thursday night. That story will also be presented at the Field of Dreams Gala on Saturday night.

Our interview was scheduled for 10:30AM on Tuesday. I hadn’t seen Coach LeClair in over six months. I really didn’t know what to expect.

An emergency news meeting made me late for the interview. LeClair was ready. His first words to me, from his computer, told me that I was tardy.

“You’re late,” LeClair said via his retinal scanner. “If I was Bobby Knight, I’d kick you out.”

LeClair is unable to smile, but you can still feel the warmth and wit in his words.

LeClair now communicates by scanning an alphabet board on a computer screen. His eyes dart from letter to letter, forming words and sentences to be spoken through the computer’s speakers.

I can’t imagine what life for LeClair would be like without this latest technology.

The thing I took away most from my interview with Keith and his wife Lynn was the unbelievable faith they both showed.

“I think for a while you have to allow yourself time to ask why,” said Lynn. “Sometimes people asked me if I’m mad at God. I just tell them that God is pretty much all we have right now.”

Lynn LeClair is unbelievably strong. Her faith in God is unbreakable. She and Keith have gone through so much. If ever there was an angel on earth, that angel is Lynn LeClair.

Keith is just as strong. He sits motionless, yet he takes the time to use his scanner to ask me about my family.

I find it ironic that the Pirates' baseball opener lands on Valentine’s Day. Just think about the love that Pirate fans have already shown the LeClairs.

That’s the one thing that both Lynn and Keith wanted me to convey in my story, just how much they appreciated the Pirate fans.

With rain expected for the weekend, the Pirates have moved up the schedule.

Look for Coach LeClair down that right field line checking out the Pirates on opening day.

Give that Valentine of yours an extra hug today and remember that life is so very precious.

Send an e-mail message to Brian Bailey.

Click here to dig into Brian Bailey's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 01:25:35 AM

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