Rich Donnelly was a major league baseball coach who needed coaching himself. His priority in life was to reach the World Series, at any cost, and what he lost in the journey was his relationship with his family – specifically, his teenage daughter Amy.
Unfulfilled as a man, Donnelly spent years drifting apart from his daughter and his once-strong faith. Life on the road with his baseball teams – first, the Texas Rangers, and, later, the Pittsburgh Pirates – was full of carousing and temptation. His buddies, not to mention the team’s wins and losses, seemed to mean more to him than his loved ones. His wife divorced him, and Amy disowned him. Deep down, he knew he needed to change, knew he was figuratively out of the baseline, knew he needed a minor miracle.
The Chicken Runs at Midnight is the true story of Rich Donnelly’s search for peace and redemption, and how he is ultimately saved by Amy in both heaven and on earth. In the end, The Chicken Runs at Midnight -- a nonsensical phrase invented out of thin air -- becomes code for optimism and rebirth. It will help you persevere. It will give you hope at your lowest low. It will have you cheering for what is good. And it will prove that God can work in the life of any person, even through their mistakes and failures, even when they’re not paying attention, even when they think it’s too late to turn around and start over again.
The Chicken Runs at Midnight stands for never giving in. It stands for overcoming obstacles. It stands for Amy.
Tom Friend is a feature writer, columnist, director and commentator who has worked for ESPN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Kansas City Star, the San Jose Mercury News and the National Sports Daily. He has had multiple stories reprinted in the anthology The Best American Sports Writing, and his TV version of The Chicken Runs at Midnight—which he reported and wrote for ESPN—was nominated for a 2016 Sports Emmy. A graduate of the University of Missouri and a native of Washington, D.C., he lives in Southern California with his wife and two children.