Baseball might be my least favorite sport. Now, that doesn’t mean I’d turn down an autographed Mickey Mantle baseball (but I’d prefer his Topps rookie card). I’ve got about 10 signed baseballs (the Roger Maris one is probably my favorite).
Because I love football and find baseball to be boring, I thought George Carlin’s baseball/football bit was hysterical.
Yet I heard two baseball stories recently that warmed my heart.
Ethan Ortega, an 8-year-old fan at Tropicana Field, was hanging on the railing when Indians’ Josh Donaldson pulled him out of the stands and played catch with him near the visiting dugout before a game against the Rays. Afterwards, Donaldson lifted Ortega back to the guardrail and into the stands. He then signed a baseball for him, writing “To Ethan, thanks for playing catch.”
The father said that Ethan had been trying to meet JD during spring training, and that this “made his dream come true.”
A sadder story, though...involves the fire in Paradise, California. The news reports showed all the burned down houses, and talked of the 86 people that died. Over 150,000 acres burned in the 17 days of fire.
News got out about a 10-year-old boy named Colton that had a large memorabilia collection, which included 51 signed baseballs. He lost it all, and in a blog that someone wrote, a physician and mom, Namrita Kapoor, was moved. She knew somebody, who knew somebody that played for the Padres named Xavier Nady. He had a 15-year career in the big leagues, that was unfortunately peppered with lots of injuries (including two Tommy John surgeries). In his healthiest season, he finished batting over .300 and hitting 25 homers. In his time with the Padres, he once hit a homer in four straight games.
Well, Nady heard about this boy and sent him an autographed baseball. That would be nice enough, but he took it a step further. During his career, he collected a lot of autographs from players he admired and met along the way. He decided to send a bunch of those signed baseballs to the boy; as well as signed baseball cards of various players, and a pair of batting gloves he once used. He wrote a moving letter to Colton that he enclosed with it all.
I’m sure it made this holiday season so much nicer for a boy that was probably heartbroken over losing his house and everything he owned.