Let me start by saying my 3-year-old son LOVES baseball. He’s been swinging a bat and hitting pitches since he was 2 years old. It’s ordinary for us to be outside playing “Baseball” by 7 AM no matter the temperature, season, or other planned activities for that day. We DVR any baseball game just so he can watch baseball on rainy days. Truth of the matter is he doesn’t care if he’s watching a t-ball game at the park down the street, or sitting front row at a Major League game…. he simply loves the game. Earlier this year we had planned a family vacation to St. Louis and the thought occurred to us, maybe we should take the Major League Baseball Stadium tour….and a plan was born. Our family goal is to hit all 30 stadiums before he graduates from high school.
Early Last week, the family situation was different. We were called up to Northern Wisconsin by my in-laws after my father-in-law was nearing the end of his 10 month battle with cancer. As fate would have it the kids and I would arrive just moments before his final breath. The daily routine of our family life took hiatus to reconciling memories and planning the celebration of my father-in-law’s life. My 3-year-old son and 17-month-old daughter took things in stride. Somewhat isolated from other kids their age, we tried to find recreational activities to get them out so they weren’t stir crazy. The temps were nearing high 90’s with high humidity, but my children were still anxious to play outside. Luckily I packed the wiffle bat, 2 baseball gloves, a few balls and my son’s baseball helmet. Regardless of the forecast he pleaded to play baseball regularly. As my week with the extended family was drawing to an end, it seemed fitting to find a way to squeeze in the nearest Major League Baseball Stadium to check one more off the tour. So Wednesday, August 28th we decided to brave the heat and head to Minneapolis to catch the Twins vs. Royals game at Target Field.
In true Little Man fashion he dwelled in the experience of being at a baseball game. He wore his Brewers outfit, cheered for the Cubs, and watched intently as the Twins played the Royals. He observed others trying to get on the big screen by holding posters and dancing, so he grabbed his “First Game Certificate” and held it up with pride. Of course there was a fair amount of the required baseball snacks. A typical baseball game experience…until the 7th inning. As the heat waned on us we decided we needed to get up and walk around. Opting for the cheap seats in the 300 level, we were excluded from the occasional breeze I noticed on the lower levels. We made our way down to the lower level, managed to get a picture with TC Twin Bear and were drawn to some open seats along the first base line near the right field.
After the Royals put up 5 runs in the 7th many fans cleared out, leaving clusters of empty seats throughout the stadium. We lingered along the 1st base line, and eventually took a seat a few rows back from the field to take in the final 1.5 innings. I felt slightly guilty sitting down so close to the field, although I knew we weren’t stealing anyone else seats. The fans around us welcomed us and easily chatted with my husband, son and I. I noticed a family to our right, just across the aisle. A young teenage boy was decked in Twins attire, sported a handmade sign, and pleaded every opportunity for the right fielder (Wilkens Ramirez that game) to throw a ball, sign his glove, whatever he could get. He seemed to be a true diehard baseball/Twins fan. I smiled and thought to myself, “that will probably be my little man some day.” As the Twins took the field in the bottom of the eighth after warming up, Wilkens threw the ball in our direction. My husband fumbled it and the young boy I explained above got the ball…rightfully so. We sat down, my son was disappointed. As we explained to our 3-year-old that you can’t expect to get everything you want, and that the other boy was waiting the entire game … he showed up next to us and offered the ball to my son. I assured the young boy it wasn’t necessary, but he insisted.
We were so moved by the gesture we encouraged our son to give him a high-five and say thank you. Which he did, and the crowd cheered. The mom snuck over to share the picture she had captured of my son giving the high-five. Together we dwelled on the moment and shared in the joy of the proud mom moment. Generosity and sportsmanship at it’s finest.
I learned that the 13-year-old boy had a similar love for the game and like my little man has played the game since he could walk. Several other fans shared positive comments, the usher even stated he wished he had a ball to honor the young man’s generosity. Without knowing our story, our struggles or the week had just endured, he found it in his heart to give the ball to my son and make this night the highlight of our summer. My son has been sleeping with the ball ever since. I shared the picture below with the family when we arrived home later that evening. The crossing of our family’s path with the young boy’s family has been an enriching and fulfilling experience in and of itself. I feel like I have been given a gift and I need to share this story.
Now I’d like to ask your help. Help me honor this young boy for his generosity and selflessness. Share this story! I would like to highlight how little acts of kindness can really make a difference, to provide inspiration, to show how everyday people contribute to the greater good!