Every town in this country seems to have at least one steward, one ambassador who is wired to create good. They typically aren’t elected or appointed or hired or even named. They just show up and give what they can.
For Olean, NY, that was Milo Belvees and, for years, his mission was the local Little League. It was through baseball that generations of area kids came to know him, the coach of the Cards, who somehow knew us all by name, knew our parents, knew our bat speeds. Years later, long after we’d hung up the polyester unis for good, he’d still greet you by name. “Louie, how are the parents?”
That was a small piece of Milo, who manned his corner of the globe, ensuring at the very least that his town would offer its kids the chance to learn the game. And once they had grown into halfway decent human beings, they’d find him at his quiet bar on the main drag – the Village Green – for a couple of beers and to talk of history, family and what would surely be another disappointing season for the Miami Dolphins.
In the ensuing days following his sudden passing last week, his life and impact have come into full view. How obvious and defined they shine now, when the time to express our sincere appreciation has passed us. That regret compounds the loss.
Holiday seasons back home were never fully complete without a night at Milo’s Village Green, because it was quiet and comfortable, a place to reconnect and think and talk beneath the glow of a Sabres game. And because Milo was there, and there was and is a subtle comfort in knowing that some people and places stand firm, that history is worth recognizing and cherishing, and that not everything has to change so god damn quickly.
I will miss Milo, his company, but I will continue to celebrate his contributions to my life and to those of many, many others. Thanks for the game, Milo.