With social distancing and restrictions on large gatherings, birthday celebrations have been looking a little different in the time of coronavirus. So when longtime Edmonds resident Bill Loughrin turned 60 last month, he marked the occasion by catching up — literally — with friends, family and business clients.
Loughrin credits his wife Kelli for coming up with the idea: to have 60 people stop by his downtown Edmonds accounting office, wish him a happy birthday, play a little catch and then sign their baseballs.
Why play catch? Loughrin, who as a child lived in Edmonds’ Forest Glen neighborhood and went to Woodway High School before attending the University of Washington, recalled that playing football, basketball and baseball with neighborhood kids “was the best part of growing up.”
In addition, he remembers fondly playing catch outside with both his children when they were young, then serving as a catcher (along with Kelli) for the kids’ fastballs as they grew older — son Billy, now 26, was a baseball pitcher, and Brooke, now 28, a softball pitcher.
“I guess I just miss the best part of my younger days playing catch with good people,” Loughrin said. “Even today, in my trunk of my car, I carry two baseball gloves, a softball for Brooke and a baseball for Billy, hoping to find someone to play catch.”
The idea turned into about a week of birthday catches, culminating in his actual birthday Sept. 17, when he went into the office of Loughrin and Company CPAs on Sprague Street in the morning for a few more catches. At noon, it was time for a celebration with family that included a walk, lunch, more games of catch and even Frisbee golf — “just another item to throw,” he noted. After a birthday dinner, he played catch with his in-laws, Reed (85) and Barb (84) Skibeness, his wife Kelli and children Billy and Brooke. “It was the best part of everything,” he said.
Loughrin said he also received virtual baseballs — with words of wisdom — from those who couldn’t play catch in person. “There were a few Field of Dreams references and a few pictures of Ken Griffey Jr.’s greatest catches,” Loughrin said. “I now have 60 signed baseballs, which are better than any gift I could ever ask for.”
— By Teresa Wippel
This article is part of an ongoing series exploring the impact of coronavirus on the life, work and health of Edmonds residents. If you or someone you know has a story to tell, please email us at email@example.com. For other stories in this series, click here.