Jim Cutler, Bedford’s ‘Mr. Baseball,’ publishes memoir as he battles cancer
He spent 46 years at Bedford’s Liberty High School, leading the Minutemen to a state title in 1977.
BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ) - When it comes to coaching America’s pastime, Jim Cutler has covered all the bases.
He spent 46 years at Bedford’s Liberty High School, leading the Minutemen to a state title in 1977, racking up 513 victories along the way.
“Bedford County is a special place,” said Cutler. “I had many opportunities to leave, but I chose to stay here. We had good players, but more importantly, we had good people, and I think that’s what means a whole lot.”
Nowadays, Cutler spends nearly every morning on the golf course - and it was there where he thought he’d come down with laryngitis.
The true diagnosis was far more serious.
“And I never will forget it,” he recalled. “They came back and told me - my son was sitting next to me - and he came in and said, ‘Coach, you have stage four lung cancer.’ And I said, ‘Well, what does that mean?’ He said, ‘Well, that means it has progressed out of the lungs.’”
It was a shock, but it also sent him into action.
“He said, ‘You have anywhere from six months to two years to live with stage four,’” said Cutler. “And I said, ‘Buddy, I better start writing quick.’”
And that he did.
Alongside his daughter, Cherie, Cutler began putting a lifetime of memories into words - telling stories from his childhood in the coal country, to coaching at the 1986 Olympic Festival in Houston.
The process got him through the darkest moments of his treatment.
“I wasn’t able to sleep at all at night,” he said, “and so I would stay up and write at night. And I would find myself laughing at myself, laughing at the stories.”
With chapters titled ‘Wine Explosion’ and ‘The Double-Blind Date,’ The Life of Mr. Baseball has plenty of tales from the diamond but, mostly, it’s about the moments that have kept Cutler smiling, through good times and bad.
The cancer, now shrinking, has softened his speaking voice, but just flip through the pages of his paperback, and the wise words of Bedford’s Mr. Baseball will surely ring loud and clear.
“You can’t let cancer get the best of you,” said Cutler. “You’ve got to fight with everything you have and I’ve been blessed with great support from my family and my friends, and it’s been a battle and it’s going to continue to be a battle. But there’s a lot of people who have it far worse than I do. And if I can give people hope to keep fighting and have a positive attitude, then I think that’s my goal.”
You can learn more about the book and purchase a copy on Cutler’s website.
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