I met Stephen back in 1999 at Liberty University. We both played baseball. We were both freshmen. And other than that, we had pretty much nothing in common, including any hint of an affinity for each other.
Our first interaction went something like this.
Day one of practice. All of the outfielders head out to center field to shag flyballs. Stephen is up first. It’s a short fly and he kind of dogs it running in toward the infield and the ball lands in front of him. So of course, we start taunting him, with the jeers led by me. “First day dude and you let it drop like that? Gotta want it bro!” Well. Now Stephen’s mad. And he cuts back into the front of the line and another short fly is coming and he runs in, busting his tail, trying to catch it and shut us all up at the same time.
Instead, he does this awkward slide thing and manages to cleat himself on the inside of his knee, opens a nasty gash and that’s it for his season. In fact, he left Liberty until his Junior year and when he came back, he was mostly just a guy on the team and at best, we put up with each other.
Fast forward to 2004. Because the story gets better. I’m in Atlanta for a teammate’s wedding, and the night of the rehearsal dinner, people start saying they see Schweickart, who wasn’t invited to the wedding, but showed up because the college boys would be there and it would be fun. Jerk!
But, that’s actually kind of where everything for us started. I was moving to Charleston, South Carolina in a week and it turns out, as one of my teammates informed me, Stephen already lived there. So, we started chatting that night. Made some plans to meet up when I got settled in. And I learned pretty quickly that a familiar face in an unfamiliar town is welcome. No matter the past, you make it work.
We became very good friends. Best friends, in fact. We have gone through a lot together and helped each other get through some not so great things. We’ve been there for each other. And I’m very grateful for that.
But we’re still very different. Deep down, I’m still from Brooklyn and he’s still from the middle of Indiana Amish country, and there are just parts of us that will never really mesh. It’s an extremely unorthodox friendship and people comment all the time that they can’t believe we are friends, let alone business partners. But that’s why he’s the perfect business partner for me. I don’t need someone to agree with me all the time. I need someone who can push me. The brand. The vision. And maybe make me look at things in a way I wouldn’t have without a little prodding. Or, a lot.
Almost from the beginning, Stephen has been involved behind the scenes in ANGEL | BESPOKE. Now, he’s taking a more center stage position.
Which, thankfully, he’s a lot better suited for than center field.