A pair of inseparable Colt .45s
By GLENN MILLER
Roy Hobbs Baseball
Their friendship began on the Calvary Baptist Church softball team in Latonia, Ky., more than 20 years ago.
Ever since, Ray Sterling and Will McCabe have played together, through softball leagues and baseball teams around northern Kentucky and Cincinnati and in the Roy Hobbs World Series.
They’ve been on innumerable ball fields, but these Cincy Colts teammates playing together remains a constant, no matter where they play. It has been so long Sterling isn’t even sure how long they’ve played together. He thinks it has been about 24 or 25 years.
For the past 6 years, as Sterling reckons, they’ve been Colts teammates. They share love of the game and a competitive spirit.
“He has always been very competitive,” Sterling said of McCabe. “He’s always got your back.”
Sterling, 46, knows he can count on his reliable friend. “You know every week he’s going to show up,” Sterling said.
McCabe, 48, recalled that they played softball together for several years before finding baseball in about 2007 or 2008. He said Sterling is also competitive and their competitive spirits didn’t get their friendship off to a promising start.
“We both thought we were the straw that stirs the drink,” McCabe said, referencing a 1977 baseball quote attributed to Yankees slugger Reggie Jackson about his role on his team.
Sterling and McCabe soon learned to not only respect but also like each other. That respect is built in part around recognizing the competitor in the other as a trait they see in themselves.
In Roy Hobbs Baseball, of course, they find themselves surrounded by other men like that, fellows who grew up playing baseball, believe in playing it the right way and like to win but accept losing gracefully.
That’s part of what has been bringing them to Fort Myers for years.
“Just the camaraderie with the guys,” said McCabe, a purchasing and fleet manager for the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, a drive across the Brent Spence Bridge spanning the Ohio River from his suburban Kentucky home.
The chance to meet former big-leaguer baseball players is another lure that brings them to Fort Myers.
“I love to talk to Bill Lee,” McCabe said of the left-handed former big-league pitcher who is a regular World Series participant.
He recalls Lee pitching against his childhood team, the Cincinnati Reds, in the 1975 World Series. Now, they’re equals – Roy Hobbs ballplayers.
“I was like a kid in a candy store,” McCabe said of seeing Lee in Fort Myers the first time.
Sterling, an IT manager for IMFLUX, Inc., enjoys bumping into former big-league slugger Dante Bichette at the World Series.
“We’ve become friends,” Sterling said of the one-time Colorado Rockies outfielder, who led the National League in homers (40) and RBI (128) in 1995.
Sterling and McCabe both grew up playing baseball in Kentucky. Sterling said he tried out for the Reds, Pirates, Indians and Expos.
When the Cincy Colts play on baseball fields at the World Series, they’re sharing the same fields players even better than Lee and Bichette once played on. Hall of Famers such as Lefty Grove, Bob Feller, Roberto Clemente and dozen of others have played at Terry Park.
“That to me is like walking on hallowed ground,” McCabe said.
Now, he and his friend play on the same fields. “It blows my mind,” McCabe said.
But baseball and the Roy Hobbs World Series are about more than hallowed ground or hobnobbing with ex-pros. “Just the camaraderie with the guys,” McCabe said. “Not just the guys on my team.”
On their softball/baseball journey they played on teams called the Bandits and Triangle Cleaning Services and the Blue Sox.
Now they’re Cincy Colts. No matter the team or the sport, though, Ray Sterling and Will McCabe have been together through the years.
They’ve both been straws that stirred the drink and have become even more than teammates.
“Will is like a brother to me and I love having him as a teammate to help push me and make me play to the best of my abilities,” Sterling said. “Will is a great teammate, friends and brother.”
There’s no higher praise than that.