MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Twins don't normally call up rookie pitchers to the big leagues after they hit 90 years old, but Emery Erickson was the exception on Thursday, at least for one pitch.
"It's been a wild ride I'll tell you," Erickson said, as he got ready to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Twins took on the Cleveland Indians at Target Field. “It’s finally sinking in.”
Erickson's debut in a Twins uniform started with a cup of coffee and a conversation about his bucket list.
"He had talked to his buddies about bucket lists and he told me, 'I’d love to throw out the first pitch at a Twins game,'" said Jan Miller, Emery's daughter. "I was blown away.”
Miller contacted the Twins about her father's wish, and the team was impressed with his resume.
"He gives and gives and gives," Miller said.
At just 17 years old, Emery gave back to his country, serving two years in the Navy during World War II.
He's giving spirit has only grown in the decades since. A lifetime of volunteering, training service dogs and, most recently, building little free libraries for his neighborhood.
When he moved into Covenant Village Retirement Community a few years ago, Emery also began leading programs and overseeing the woodshop.
"It's a win-win," Emery said. "We're doing something worthwhile and we're doing something we enjoy."
Enjoying life has always been important to Emery, but it has taken on new meaning in recent years.
His wife rubie began suffering from dementia some time around their 40th wedding anniversary.
"It's probably four or five years ago when we started noticing she wasn't remembering things the way we thought she should," Emery said.
"They knew they were preparing for the day when she would have to move into memory care," Miller said.
That day came two months ago. Emery suffered a heart attack in January, and his doctor told him the stress associated with caring for his wife, had taken a toll. That's when they decided that Rubie would need to move across the street into memory care.
"That's just the nature of the disease and you know… God bless her but that's hard," Emery said.
"It's a very, very ugly disease," Miller said. "They call it the longest day."
But on a day when the Twins invited him to take the field, Rubie was feeling well and able to watch her husband check off the first item on his bucket list.
"I'm thrilled," He said, as he kissed Rubie. "This is wonderful."