By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
Kevin heard from Mike only occasionally after that. Because Kevin was a lawyer, Mike would call him for legal advice, more often than not with custody questions. It was obvious that a gap had opened between Mike and the rest of the Moores.
Mike was found dead on July 24, 2000. At first the cause of death was ruled a heart attack. Later evidence, however, indicated that Mike may have died from a head injury. As far as Kevin is concerned, the case remains unsolved. What he does know is that Jenny was the sole beneficiary of Mike's life-insurance policy. She used the money to buy a double-wide trailer, where she now lives.
A few days after Mike's funeral, the Moores met in Denver as a family -- brothers, sisters, spouses. It was not in their nature to be passive, and they decided right then that their niece Meraya could not continue to live in such a dead-end existence. An intense discussion ensued: Who would take on the battle to gain custody of the child? "That's when Sabrina and I stepped in and said we were ready," Kevin recalls.
It was the beginning of a legal battle that continues today. At first, Kevin and Sabrina traveled to Las Vegas every six weeks or so to spend time with Meraya. They didn't want her to forget that she had a normal family, even if they didn't exactly live next door. It wasn't long before Meraya's big sister, Danielle, became part of the package, too. How could the Moores ask for one sister and not the other?
"We grew to love this child, too -- as a niece, as family," Kevin says. "We told her we viewed her the same as we did Meraya." Eventually, a Nevada family-court judge allowed the two girls to visit Denver -- a trip they've continued to make each Christmas and summer for the past two years.
Of the two, Danielle was the bigger challenge. More than Meraya, she seemed to feel adrift, with no real family to claim as her own -- with no sense, really, of what a family was. Kevin has told her over and over that she is every bit as much a part of his plan to adopt as her little half-sister. It's been hard work, though.
The struggle to adopt the two girls has consumed most of Kevin's time and energy, and he has had to place his summer minor-league vacations on hold for the past two years. He hasn't given up on the game, though.
On June 13, 2003, he saw a no-hitter during one of his visits to Nevada. The Las Vegas 51s (named after Area 51, the nuclear test site) were playing the Tacoma Rainiers. Kevin still has the ticket from the game, which he keeps on a windowsill at his law office.
He remembers the game vividly because it was the second one he'd taken Danielle to in an effort to bond with the little girl, who is now nine years old. The first time she'd been manic, a distraction. She'd bounced from seat to seat, barely noticing the action on the field. This time, however, Kevin had come up with the idea of giving her a program. As the game progressed, he taught her the arcane art of filling in a score sheet.
The connection between the action on the field and the paper in her hand seemed to have some magical effect on Danielle. "When I gave her a score sheet and a pencil and explained that every pitch means something, it was like a light went on," he recalls. "She had control. It was an epiphany for her, and she had a great time." It was an eye-opener for Kevin, too. Baseball's calm order appeared to speak to Danielle, and it was then that Kevin first wondered if the game might possess some healing power.
Over the past couple of months, Kevin has gotten a few small breaks in the custody case. It's beginning to look as though he and Sabrina may be able to spend more time with their nieces. Kevin can't wait to introduce them to the things that mean the most to him. In short, he's finally planning another minor-league tour -- but this time, it will include two new members.
This summer's trip will take the Moores and the girls to the Midwest, through Nebraska and Iowa, and up to Minnesota. As before, the idea is to end the vacation with a big-league game -- the Cubs, perhaps, or maybe the Twins.
Kevin has faith in the trip. It is as if by putting his love and wonder for baseball on display, some of that depth of feeling may be absorbed by the girls he hopes will spend their lives with his family. "Baseball," he says optimistically, "finds a way."