Kindness Was the Name of the Game
By Russ Towne
In 2012 my wife and I experienced a most unusual baseball game between the Giants and the Yankees. During it we got to see a 5-run homer, a batter run the bases backwards, and players skipping in the outfield and doing somersaults in the infield.
Perhaps I should explain…
My Beloved, a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and 1st Graders, was invited by the parents of one of her students to a baseball game in a Special Education league. She invited me, and off we went on that beautiful sunny day, which featured a strong brisk breeze.
The home team was named the Giants and the away team was the Yankees. This was no ordinary game. In fact, it was a special game indeed.
All the fans cheered equally for every player of both teams. Each player was matched with a “buddy” on the field, a Little Leaguer who volunteered to help their little buddy to field or hit the ball and stay safe.
Every one of the young volunteer buddies was amazing! They stayed focused during the whole game while patiently guiding their little buddies in gentle, loving ways.
The grown-up volunteers, coaches, managers also kept everyone safe while helping children who were physically, mentally, and behaviorally challenged to experience the thrill of playing baseball.
Every child got to bat every inning. There were eight players per team and the score was tied 8 to 8 at the end of the first inning and ended in a 16 to 16 tie. It wasn’t exactly a pitchers’ duel, and the fielding needed some work, but their bats were on fire!
On the field was a player in a motorized wheel chair and players who could barely run or hold a bat. Boys and girls played for each team. The players went through a range of emotions during the game, with smiles dominating, but there were frustration and tears, too. Some were show-boats, some were painfully shy, and a few got overwhelmed by it all.
You couldn’t ask for a better announcer or fans. It was a wonderful way to spend part of the day.
To say I was touched by it all was an understatement. My vision blurred several times during the game as I saw people being beautiful to each other. It must have been the brisk breeze blowing dust into my eyes.
Yeah, that must have been it…