Monday, June 28, 2010
The Impact Major League Players Can Have …
This email arrived today from a “fan”:
I work at a non-profit called Families United. We are dedicated to the Blue Star and Gold Star families of our country and strive to Honor the Fallen, Support those who Fight, and Serve their Families. Though this story does not involve my company, I can tell you that every co-worker is a huge fan of the White Sox after this weekend.
I am a proud supporter of our military. I am the proud girlfriend of Sgt. Doyle, currently on his second tour of Afghanistan. Sgt. Doyle grew up in Chicago, still has family there, and is a rabid fan of all things Chicago, especially his Bears, Blackhawks and White Sox. Before his first deployment, I treated him to a White Sox game in the second row. Gavin Floyd was signing autographs pregame, and we were fortunate enough to get a ball signed!
Currently, I live in Washington, D.C., and prior to his deployment, he was on contract work in the D.C. area. We learned that the White Sox would be playing the Nationals, and immediately knew we had to go. Unfortunately, K. was deployed in late spring. I purchase tickets anyway and told him I would cheer on his Sox, but more importantly, would do everything in my power to catch him a ball at batting practice.
I arrived and waited through the Nationals’ batting practice, and cheered wildly when the Sox took the field. A few minutes after practice started, I realized our old hero Gavin Floyd was in front of me. I yelled his name, and when he turned, I yelled that I needed to get a ball for my boyfriend in Afghanistan, hoping that I’d get lucky and he’d throw one up.
Instead, Gavin walked close to the outfield wall where I stood and asked if I had a pen. Not knowing he was holding a ball, I asked if he would sign my hat, clipped a silver Sharpie to it, and dropped it down into his hands. I’m already incredibly happy, thinking Gavin would sign the hat and I’d have something amazing to mail to Afghanistan. Instead, Gavin looks up at me and says, “Be right back.”
He carried my hat and a ball he already had and walked over to a group of five other pitchers ( Matt Thornton, Scott Linebrink, Tony Pena, John Danks and Bobby Jenks). One by one, he got them to sign both the hat and ball. When he returned to the wall and threw the ball and hat back up to me, he didn’t just turn away. He took a moment, apologized that the pen had started to run out and said to me, “tell him thank you from all of us for serving, and to be safe.”
This already would have been a dream story, but a few minutes later, I saw A.J. Pierzynski headed to the bullpen. Knowing it was a long shot, I ran that direction, and as he walked back out, I called down to him, “A.J., will you please sign my ball for my boyfriend in Afghanistan?” A.J. walked a few additional steps and said, “I can’t right now, sorry, wait what?” I explained again that my boyfriend is in Afghanistan right now and absolutely “LOVES you guys!” At this, A.J. reached up to catch the ball and Sharpie, signed the ball, threw it back up to me and said, “Tell him thank you.”
When I finally was able to speak to Sgt. Doyle, he was in pure disbelief. The morale boost this provided is unbelievable. I can’t wait until I can mail the hat and ball to him soon. I earned the title of best girlfriend, but I truly believe the credit goes to these players, specifically Gavin Floyd and A.J. Pierzynski. Too often, people ignore the military. It’s easier to just ignore our guys who are serving rather than make any sacrifice for them. And it would be easy for athletes to ignore autograph requests because they are focusing on their game. But A.J. took time from his warm-up, a time when no one should really bother him, and did one tiny thing that means so much. And Gavin went out of his way to thank Sgt. Doyle. He could have simply thrown me a ball. He could have signed it himself only. He could have signed just my hat, not my hat and a ball. But instead, he took a short walk and added so much more, and still expressed his thanks!
I know this story went on forever, but this experience meant so much to me I can’t truly express it. These guys expressed their thanks and their support of our troops in a wonderful way, and there is one incredibly happy soldier in Afghanistan right now!