It was a beautiful day at the ballpark. The sun was shining and we were at Citi Field to watch our beloved Mets. And I’m not throwing the word “beloved” around here. We do really love our Mets.
When heading out to the ballpark for a game, we like to arrive early for batting practice because we have a 3 year old and we never know how much of the game we will actually be able to see before his interest wanes. Our favorite spot is the left field bleachers, where we can watch the balls fly over the fence and hope that one will come near us. None of my kids had ever caught a ball until a visiting Atlanta Braves player, David Aardsma, provided my daughter with a memory that will last a lifetime.
If you have ever gone into the outfield for batting practice, you know how annoying kids can be. That might be kind of harsh coming from a dad blogger, but it is the truth. In the outfield bleachers, hundreds of young children, teenagers, and even grown men shout at the players in hopes of getting a ball thrown their way. Usually, a player will toss up a ball to quiet the yelling crowd. Sometimes though, when a visiting team comes into town, the heckling crowd is so annoying that the visiting team never tosses balls into the crowd. And who could blame them, given the comments that are coming from behind them?
My daughter is not one of the kids that yell at the visiting players, but she was surrounded by annoying boys who pushed and jostled her, significantly decreasing her chances of catching a ball. My daughter, whom I have written about many times, is very petite. She just turned 9, but she was born a preemie and at times can be overshadowed by much bigger kids. (Her oversized personality makes up for her small stature, as you know if you have read my other stories about her.)
She stood along the wall with her glove out, not really expecting a ball to come her way. In fact, I think she may have even hoped that nothing would come her way – she was simply having fun being part of the crowd. I stood behind her for protection, in case anyone tried to run over her while chasing a ball. Aardsma, a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves was shagging balls in the outfield and caught a ball near the wall. He turned to toss it into the crowd and found my daughter. Pointing up at her, he motioned for the boys to step aside and yelled, “This one’s for her,” and tossed the ball up into the bleachers for her to grab. The ball bounced off her glove and fell to the ground. A mad dash ensued for the ball, but I was right there and picked it up and handed it to my daughter. Aardsma yelled at my daughter to throw it back to him, and she did. He yelled instructions up to her on how to catch a ball and threw it back. Again, she dropped it. And so this game of catch continued – a big league player instructing a 9 year old girl on the proper way to catch a baseball. They threw it back and forth 10 to 15 times.
Now, the Atlanta Braves were not on my daughter’s radar of teams that interested her. But because of a game of catch with a MLB player, the Atlanta Braves have a new admirer. Actually, David Aardsma has a new admirer.
Usually when fans go see a game, it is their own team that provides the special memory. On this day, a visiting player gave a family of fans from the opposing team a special moment. I didn’t know anything about Mr. Aardsama, other than that he is a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. So I looked him up on Twitter and saw that the first thing he has listed on his profile is “Baseball and family.” The way he interacted with my daughter proves that he really does believe that baseball and family are things to be cherished.
I wanted the ball to go on her shelf, along with her other special things collected over the years, but she chooses to carry around the ball in her purse. After all, you never know when a game of catch will break out.
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