COSTELLO AND HEROD
HELPING A TEAMMATE GET THROUGH DIFFICULT TIMES
By GLENN MILLER
Roy Hobbs Baseball
Pat Herod and Jimmy Costello were softball teammates in St. Louis in 2006. Herod knew Costello as a reliable fellow, one who could be counted on to show up for games, to show up on time and never miss.
Suddenly, Jimmy Costello wasn’t showing up for games. Not at all.
“Totally out of character,” Herod said.
He knew Costello as a teammate not given to post-game Budweiser-infused monologues about his exploits. The rest of the team wondered as well about their missing teammate.
Herod said a refrain was often heard that spring around the softball team: “Where’s Jimmy Costello?”
Herod tried calling his friend and teammate but kept getting the same voice mail message: “mailbox full.”
Finally, one morning, Herod saw Jimmy Costello on the front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, along with his wife, Maria, and a son and daughter. The photo showed them at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery for the burial of Costello’s son, James Costello III.
To friends and family, he was Jaimie. Jamie was killed in Iraq by an IED on April 11, 2006.
He was 27 and an Army soldier.
Suddenly, the mystery of why Jimmy Costello stopped showing up for softball games became clear.
“That’s when I knew,” Herod said.
Now, 13 years later, Herod and Costello are Roy Hobbs Baseball teammates, ones with a bond going back a long time and one that includes memories of a son beloved by one man who raised him and another man who never met him but understands a father’s pain.
Since his son’s death, Jimmy Costello also lost his wife, Marie. She died 3 years after Jamie. She was 55.
“After we lost Jamie, she kind of gave up,” Costello, 67, said.
Marie and the entire Costello family was there when Jamie was interred at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. An evocative Post-Dispatch account of the ceremony noted that Jamie was buried in section N, “the one set aside for active-duty deaths.”
The cemetery is roughly 3 miles from the Costello home in Oakville.
Over the summer Costello talked about the son he lost in service to his country.
“He was a very smart kid,” Costello said.
Jamie loved history and hockey and had played Little League baseball. After 9/11 the patriotic young man wanted to serve his country, and although older than most enlistees he signed up to do his bit. Jamie was 24 and working at the Post Office when he enlisted.
“I think his buddies called him gramps,” Costello said.
Costello grew up in a family that honors military service and, wanted to do his bit as great-grandfathers and grandfathers had done before him. So, he became what his father calls a “cavalry scout.”
PFC Costello was a member of the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. On his final mission he was in a Bradly Fighting Vehicle. It hit an IED.
“He was killed instantly,” Costello said.
Now, with one of his three children gone and a wife lost, Costello perseveres. He has a surviving daughter, Catharine, and son, Rob.
He also has baseball teammates such Pat Herod. Costello, who has been playing baseball for five years, has played in 2 Roy Hobbs World Series and 1 Sunshine Classic. He plans to play this fall for the St. Louis Braves 65s team.
Costello has also overcome cancer to play baseball. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2015, endured surgery and chemotherapy and said he was declared cancer free in 2016.
The cancer returned in 2017 but has since spread to his liver and lungs. Yet, he still plans to play baseball, the game Jamie played as a young boy and his friend Pat Herod still plays.
When Jamie was buried in Jefferson Barracks, his father wore Jamie’s dog tags around his neck.
Herod asked his baseball friend how he does it, how he can play baseball while fighting cancer and in the wake of losing a son and wife.
“It’s what Maria and Jimmy would want,” Herod said Costello told him.
If you bump into Pat Herod this fall during the Roy Hobbs World Series take a look at what is draped around his neck. He wears a replica of Jamie Costello’s dog tags, a tribute to a young man he never met and a salute to his friend and teammate, Jimmy Costello.