Hope Springs Eternal

After a much appreciated off day Tuesday (all I did was laundry; it rained yet again on the day off), our travels have taken us to Peoria, IL.  This was a shorter trip than our recent road trips with the bus ride from Cedar Rapids taking only about two and a half hours.  The four-game series with the Peoria Chiefs (Chicago Cubs) began on a positive note last night with a 5-3 win in a very well played game all around.  Tonight, we were not so fortunate and dropped a 7-4 decision, struggling both on the mound and at the plate.  This has been the story of our season so far, as we have been unable to play well on a consistent basis and string wins together.  However, this is a developmental process and the wins are expected to come with improvement over time.

Prior to tonight’s game, I was reminded of one of the reasons I love to play this game.  While I was going through my non-starting routine of stretching in the outfield 45 minutes prior to game time, I noticed a little boy sitting behind the fence who seemed to be taking the entire ballpark atmosphere in.  Typically, I do not notice much going on outside of the field and anyone that knows me well, knows that I usually have tunnel vision and tend to be oblivious to my surrounding when I am on the field.  However, tonight was different for whatever reason and I went over to this boy and introduced myself.  I met Mitchell, a five year old, who when asked what his favorite position was replied, “Everything.”  Who can blame him?  At that age, you wanted to play every position to see what they were all like, until you eventually came into your own at the position you were destined to be.

After a few minutes of conversation with Mitchell (who seemed quite excited to be talking to me), his mother came down and asked if he could have a picture taken with me.  I then met his older brother, Aden (I think this was his name, my apologies if I misheard), who was eight.  From speaking with their mother, the family was from Australia and has been living in the United States on and off for the past few years, and this was the boy’s first Peoria Chiefs game.  She also told me that that boys love baseball and are always hitting and throwing at home in the backyard.

While the conversation was short, it was fulfilling to know that I took the time to do something I do not normally do by conversing with this family and hopefully left a positive impact on the boys.  As much as we, as players, like to think we are playing solely for ourselves, we would be nothing without the fans.  Baseball would not be played at the level it has reached if there were not people buying the tickets and coming out to support the major and minor league players throughout the world.  Giving back to the fans and communities, along with being ambassadors of the game are two of our primary roles as professionals.  The boys expressed interest of playing baseball when they grew up I hope that my conversation instills optimism in them that through hard work and dedication, they can play professional baseball in the future.


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