MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Blake Bivens spent 2,020 days dating his high school sweetheart, Emily, before he spent 398 days engaged to her.
Their wedding was based on their mutual love of God. Emily Bernard Bivens’ hair cascaded around her shoulders in loose curls as a long-sleeved, lace mermaid gown covered her. He, with a baseball boutonniere, wore a slick suit, white bow-tie and a wide smile on that January day.
Bivens spent 1,326 days married to Emily. He only got 443 days with his blond, curly haired son, Cullen.
The Rays prospect and Montgomery Biscuits pitcher was preparing for a doubleheader against Chattanooga when he learned Tuesday morning that his wife, son and mother-in-law, Joan Bernard, had been slain in Virginia, and that his brother-in-law, 18-year-old Matthew Bernard, was allegedly responsible.
Biscuits manager Morgan Ensberg was with Bivens when it became apparent he needed to fly home.
“I’ll never forget his face. He was scared,” Ensberg said Thursday during a news conference. “He was nervous. He didn’t know what was going on. He couldn’t get in touch with his family and so we knew something was obviously wrong.”
“We put him in a car to go to the airport and three minutes later we found out what happened. I hopped in the car and went to the airport with him.”
Ensberg and Bivens flew together, along with two other staff members. The manager was with Bivens when he walked into his family’s home and when he spoke with police.
Law enforcement officials in the Keeling area of Pittsylvania County, Va., were still working Thursday to learn what motivated Bernard to attack his mother, sister and nephew. Bernard has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
Bivens’ baseball career was a constant throughout his relationship with his wife. If the boutonnieres at the wedding didn’t demonstrate their love for the game, their wedding cake, sporting two figurines resembling the couple — her with a baseball bat and him with a glove and ball in his hands — did.