Less than three weeks ago, Shawn Sowders’ phone rang at a baseball game.
A neighbor informed the longtime Harrison High School baseball coach and teacher that his home was on fire and in the span of that phone call, he knew life would be forever different.
Sowders and his wife, Misty, lost their home June 16 in a fire. They lost two dogs in the fire. They lost memories and keepsakes that come from a life lived in the same place.
“It was in between games,” Sowders said of the phone call. “We had just finished the first game and I was walking up to get something to drink and I get a phone call and my first thing was get my dogs out and they said they couldn’t get in.
“Later on, to find out the house was probably gone before the firemen ever got there. It ended up being they had to contain it more than anything else because it had already traveled through all the rafters … we were in trouble.”
Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park, Sowders – surrounded by current and former players he’s coached – was honored by the Cincinnati Reds with a trophy, a replacement for the 2015 MSA coach of the year trophy that was lost in the fire.
“Very humbling. It’s overwhelming, the support we’ve received. We knew why we lived in Harrison and why we’ve stayed there our whole lives cause my whole family is there, grandparents, everybody. Now everyone knows why we’ve lived in Harrison our whole lives.”
The Reds also had a special ticket offer where a portion of each ticket purchased through the promotion was donated to the Sowders family.
“It’s incredible,” Sowders said, with his granddaughter Piper in his arms. “Beyond just our little town of Harrison, the whole city of Cincinnati has picked up on it and it’s really been a help for all of us, for the whole family.”