Maher enjoys Dixie Youth again

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 5, 2000

One year ago, Jeff Maher was uncertain about his future. One year later, Maher is very excited about the near future.

Maher is an assistant coach with the Natchez Wallace League 11-12 All-Star team which won the state championship last Thursday.

Natchez will compete in the World Series beginning Aug. 14 in Marshall, Texas.

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Last year in June, Maher was standing in the doorway of the dugout at Sprague-Goussett Field in Duncan Park when a line drive foul struck him in the right eye.

Maher, who was blinded in the eye by the impact, was taken to the hospital where X-rays showed the eye was shattered. The surgeon compared repair work done on the eye to putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

Surgery was performed and Maher later had his retina re-attached. He still cannot see out of the eye.

Needless to say, the game of baseball was not as important as it used to be.

&uot;It brings things into perspective, a close call like that,&uot; Maher said during a championship celebration at Duncan Park Friday.

Maher attended the district tournament in Brookhaven last year where his son Benji Maher was playing for the Wallace All-Stars.

The Wallace All-Stars lost to McComb 3-0 in their second game, but advanced to the finals against McComb. The Natchez team defeated McComb 10-2 to force a final championship game. Natchez led McComb 9-2 after four innings, but McComb scored 11 runs in two innings to win 13-9.

Benji and his Wallace teammates made sure that wouldn’t happen this year.

While last year may have dimmed Maher’s enthusiasm for the game he loves, the accomplishments of this year’s Wallace All-Star team has rejuvenated Maher’s love for the game.

It’s exciting to see the talent level of these kids,&uot;&160;he said. &uot;And it’s not just this team. We had five All-Star teams make it to state. That really says something for baseball in Natchez.&uot;

One would have to look close to see the remnants of the injury behind Maher’s tinted glasses.

&uot;I can barely see light,&uot; he said.

But just as the Natchez All-Star team adopted the motto &uot;I Believe&uot; for the state championship tournament, Maher is remaining optimistic.

&uot;I’m doing pretty good,&uot; he said. &uot;Right now they are just trying to keep the eye in place. I’m hoping there will be some new technology that can help me.

Maher is scheduled for another surgery for a cornea transplant in two months.

&uot;It was a nightmare,&uot; he said. &uot;I was really fortunate it wasn’t worse. It would have been a lot worst if it would have really hit it hard. But I’m not in any real pain. Mainly it’s just an inconvenience.&uot;

And Maher did find a silver lining.

&uot;It got David New and myself both out of the dugout doorway,&uot; he said.

Maher has no trouble warning coaches and players about where they are standing during ball games.

&uot;During the state tournament I told some of the other coaches who happened to be standing in the exact same spot I was standing in what happened to me,&uot; he said. &uot;You have to be careful and be aware.&uot;

And, as Maher has learned during this year’s state tournament, you have to believe.

Joey Martin is sports editor of The Democrat. He can be reached by calling 446-5172 ext. 232 or at