Author writes about ill boy, God and baseball

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For one young terminally ill boy, God wears a baseball cap.

That was the revelation and inspiration for Tomé author Manuel Casias’ book, “God Wears A Baseball Cap.”

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: A book signing will be held at 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 12, at the Branch Coffee House in Los Lunas for local author Manuel Casias’s book, “God Wears A Baseball Cap.”

It is a true story about a boy named Tommy, who is adopted by his grandparents because his parents are involved in drugs. Soon after his grandparents adopt him, the child is diagnosed with cancer.

Casias was a chaplain in health care at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Reno, Nev., assigned to the hospice unit when he first learned about Tommy.

“A friend of mine, who was the pediatric oncologist — the cancer doctor for kids — told me that she had this patient who basically isolated himself from his family,” Casias said. “She asked me if I would go out and visit him.”

The brightest spot in Tommy’s short life was baseball, and his bedroom was decorated with all sorts of baseball paraphernalia that he had collected.

Talking about the sport was the only way Casias was able to make friends with him.

With the cancer diagnosis, Tommy’s grandparents had become focused on his salvation, and accepting Jesus into his life, Casias said.

“All of a sudden, the significance of it all hit home,” he said. “Every time his family changed the conversation to talk about heaven, Jesus or the angels, what Tommy was hearing instead was, ‘We are giving up on you.’ He was still fighting to live, and they had already surrendered.”

The soft-spoken author explains that sometimes even the most well-meaning people do harm when they try to help terminally ill loved ones.

“I remember asking Tommy, ‘What is the most important thing you learned about baseball,’ and he said his coach used to say to him, ‘Slide into home, babe, slide into home.’ I said never forget that, remember that, Tommy.”

As loving as his grandparents were, no one has the power to make God present for anyone else, Casias said.

“Tommy was already experiencing something more Godly than what everybody was prescribing for him,” he said.

“Baseball was more important to Tommy and that’s where he could experience God,” Casias continued. “Let’s get out of the way and let God be God.”

A chaplain for many years, the author comforted many terminally-ill hospice patients and their families. He grew up in the South Valley and has been the vice president and director of the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce from 2009 to 2012.

Now he is the vice president of development for St. Felix Pantry in Rio Rancho and lives on the north side of Tomé Hill.

His book, “God Wears A Baseball Cap,” is written in both English and Spanish. It is illustrated by his mother, Angie Casias, a New Mexico artist who mostly paints churches. Illustration was new to her, she said.

“I considered it a challenge because it’s telling the story in pictures,” Angie said. “I’m proud of the finished product because it went right along with the story.”

She will be illustrating several forthcoming books Casias has authored.

“This is a joint effort,” she said.

Manuel Casias will be at the Branch Coffee House, 2357 B Main St. SE in Los Lunas, for a book signing of “God Wears A Baseball Cap” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 12.

Book purchases can also be made online for $10 from the publisher Wings for Life International at www.WingsForLifeInternational.org, or call 291-6412.

Anyone can email Manuel Casias at manuelcsfp@cableone.net for a signed copy, the author said.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.