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  • Writer's pictureTim Manners

Heaven Can Waite

Updated: 19 hours ago

A Mysterious Penny Jolts the "Schoolboy" Book Tour in Cincinnati


As I stepped into the hotel shower, at around 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 23, 2024, I noticed a large dark spot on my outside right ankle, well above the shin bone. My immediate thought was that it might be a bed bug. The Netherland Plaza in Cincinnati is certainly elegant, but it also maintains a somewhat dated elan that bugs could find inviting.


With some trepidation, I reached down and peeled off the object, which adhered firmly to my ankle. It was an old, dark brown and quite worn penny.  What the heck? How could a penny have become attached to my ankle?


The morning before, I had hopped into a Lyft, and taken a 12-minute trip from the Netherland in downtown Cincinnati, past a stretch of industrial buildings, to the famous Spring Grove Cemetery. I wanted to pay my respects to Waite Hoyt, the Hall of Fame ace pitcher of the 1920s New York Yankees and beloved radio voice of the Cincinnati Reds. I was in town to promote Waite’s newly published memoir, which I co-authored, capped by a talk at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.


Spring Grove is a beautiful place. If you must be buried, this would be the spot. It reminded me a bit of Central Park, only much quieter. I entered the air-conditioned cemetery office to get directions to Waite’s gravesite. The nice lady behind the desk unfolded a map and said it was located about two miles away.


It was 90 degrees outside, and I had no car. The nice lady peered at me over her reading glasses and added that it was a complicated, hilly route. Easy to become lost. Forty-two miles of pathway altogether. Seventh largest cemetery in the world.


After I fretted over my situation, given the heat, and that I only had so much time before I was due at a Barnes & Noble store for a book signing, she asked if I were family.  I explained why I was there and before I knew it, I had the attention all five or six people in the office, including visitors, who began asking me all kinds of questions about Mr. Hoyt.


It turned into an impromptu author event. One of the visitors showed up at Barnes & Noble later that day to buy a book!


Quite unexpectedly, the nice lady behind the desk said, “You know what, we have a van, and I’ll have someone drive you there.” I was whisked to section 103 and spotted Waite’s distinctive, pink-granite headstone. Tom, my driver, followed me up a steep incline to the site. I was not lucky enough to have met Waite while he was alive, so this was the closest I was going to get.  It was a moment.


I left an autographed (by me) baseball burrowed at the base of the headstone, and Tom took some pictures. I made it back in plenty of time for my bookstore author event.


When I pulled that penny off my ankle the next morning at my Netherland Plaza hotel room, I sensed that there was something significant about it. My mind immediately went to Waite. The penny was so old and worn. You don’t see that many pennies altogether anymore, especially old ones.


I tried to make out the date, wondering if it might add something to an already remarkable experience.  I couldn’t read it, so I took a picture of it and blew it up.  I had a particular year in mind and when I saw it there it took my breath away.  “Holy s**t,” I said out loud.


The penny was dated “1984.”  The year Waite Hoyt died.


It is also the year I met Waite’s son Chris, who was the whole reason I was anointed to finish the memoir.  It happens to be the year I was married to my beautiful wife Beth, too. To top it all off, Waite “haunted” the Netherland Plaza during his infamous three-day bender in 1945, after which he gave up drinking for good.


I’ve always been agnostic about supernatural events: open to the possibility but with no firm beliefs one way or the other. All I can say is that I cannot find any reasonable explanation for how this penny found its way to me and attached itself to my ankle.


I don’t believe it was there when I went to bed because I would have noticed it when I removed my shoes and socks, which covered the spot where the penny appended. I had worn long pants all day and even my pajamas covered the full length of my leg.


I welcome all theories and accept that some will think I’m crazy or made this up. I might admit to the former, but definitely not the latter.


As far as I’m concerned it is truly a penny from heaven.


I feel blessed.


-Tim Manners



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