Donnelly’s story an inspiration

We hope the world takes as much inspiration as possible from the book by ESPN’s Tom Friend, “The Chicken Runs at Midnight” as those who know Steubenville native and former Major League Baseball coach Rich Donnelly draw from the story.

Donnelly has told the story as an inspirational speech many times across the nation about what he took from the wake of the death of his daughter, Amy, after she battled with brain cancer in the early 1990s.

He has made an inspirational presentation about what the sentence means in relation to his family, his daughter and his life, and his journey to faith and God. Amy, as a teenager, would tease her father that he was calling out “The chicken runs at midnight” to Pirates players as the team’s third base coach.

The Bucs took that as a rally cry in the fall of 1992, and the Donnelly family kept it as a motto of perseverance after Amy’s death in early 1993.

In 1997, with the dramatic 11th inning win of the Florida Marlins over the Cleveland Indians in the World Series Game 7, that sentence became a bolt from heaven for Donnelly. Craig Counsell was batted in, scoring the winning run from third. Donnelly’s son, Tim, found his father, then the third-base coach for the Marlins, on the field in the post-game celebrations and pointed out that Counsell, whose nickname was “The Chicken,” had run home to win the game. At midnight.

Donnelly’s faith journey continued from there.

Friend made Donnelly’s story his first book, and it hit the stores Oct. 2. There is talk of a movie yet to come.

Donnelly is the kind of positive symbol that athletics that are so pervasive in Steubenville and the region can tip a cap to. A man who worked hard to reach as far as he could in his dream-big professional athletics career, and who not only knows his limitations in life but is willing to work hard to change them.

And a man who is proud of his hometown and the people here and his lifelong friends and the experiences that made him who he is.

Donnelly will be signing copies of Friend’s “The Chicken Runs at Midnight: A Daughter’s Message from Heaven That Changed a Father’s Heart and Won a World’s Series,” at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Steubenville Visitor Center at Historic Fort Steuben.

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