The Chicken Runs At Midnight

The story of Amy Donnelly

Presented here by -

Bonnie M. Wells

This story is a Starlight Inner-Prize web site special and does not appear in the Pure Coincidence book series:

Amy Donnelly was 17 years old and a senior at Arlington (Texas) High School when she went for an eye exam, and the doctor discovered she had no peripheral vision in her right eye. The doctor recommended an MRI, and they found a tumor behind her eye. The tumor was malignant, and doctors gave her very little time to survive after the diagnosis in the spring of 1993.

Amy's father, Rich Donnelly was a third base coach with the Pittsburgh Pirates when they played the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series. Although chemotherapy treatments prevented Amy from attending games during the season, she did get the chance to attend a playoff game in Atlanta. When she saw her dad cupping his hands around his mouth while shouting to base runners, Amy wondered what he could be saying.

After the game, she asked him, "What the heck were you saying to those guys at second -- the chicken runs at midnight or what?" Donnelly wondered where that saying came from. Amy said she had just thought of it.

Amy couldn't attend Game 7 of the series, so instead she left her dad a good luck note that read, "Dear Dad, the chicken runs at midnight. Love, Amy."

Pirates infielder Jose "Chico" Lind caught onto the saying and passed it along to teammates -- not knowing what the phrase meant to the Donnelly family.

Each player said the phrase to Pirates manager Jim Leyland as they were introduced on the field before the game against the Braves.

Back at the family's home in Texas, Amy arranged her own stadium seating to watch the game on television. "She was a dandy," Donnelly said. "She made about three rows of seats and invited the other kids to watch the game on TV, with pompons and everything."

The Pirates lost the game and the series, which broke Donnelly's heart since he had promised to fly his cancer-stricken daughter to the World Series.

It was a promise Donnelly couldn't keep because Amy passed away three months later.

The family chose to have Amy's little quip ..."The Chicken Runs at Midnight," inscribed on her tombstone. At that time, none could have foreseen the significance of those words.

Three years after Amy's death, her father was no longer coaching for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but had become coach with the Florida Marlins.

Donnelly made it to the World Series when the Marlins beat the Braves in the playoffs.

The World Series between the Marlins and Cleveland Indians went to a seventh game that was decided in extra innings. The Marlins won the Series when Craig Counsell, whose nickname is Chicken Lips, crossed home plate with the winning run.

When Counsell scored, the stadium erupted in joy. Marlins players and coaches raced onto the field, embracing gleefully.

Meanwhile, Donnelly's sons Tim and Mike, who served as bat boys during the series, ran onto the field in tears, looking for their father. They found him and pointed to the scoreboard.

"Dad, look at the clock," they said. He did. The clock read 12:00.

The "Chicken" had run at midnight, and somewhere in Heaven, Amy must have been smiling.

"It was like she knew." Donnelly said.

Donnelly still carries around that good luck note from Amy. "I speak to groups around the country and I always tell them to believe in miracles," Donnelly said.

"It was a miracle."

Bonnie M. Wells

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Christmas At Rock-Away Rest

Christmas In Heaven

Bonnie's December Story Page

Starlight Inner-Prizes

Posted/Updated: 12-17-04 / 12-06 / 12-07 // BMW