My very good friend Brad posted this story on Facebook and I’m sharing it here with his permission. Not only is it a wonderful story, but it reminds me of why Brad is a good man. He has been though some difficult situations over the last few years, yet he managed to stay positive and focused on his goals, regardless of the setbacks and roadblocks. No matter how discouraged in his own life, he always took time to respond to my Facebook posts with words of inspiration and encouragement for me when I had struggles in my life. Because of his strong faith, he never gives up or gives in. I am proud to call him my friend, I hope you enjoy the story as much as I did.
“These are the moments. OK you should know that I’m not an official coach this year. I’ve had a belly full of jackass parents. However, I help out on Zach’s 10-year old baseball team. One of the kids I coached a few years ago is on Zach’s team this year. He struggled then and his confidence level was even lower this year. He’s all elbows flying all over the place. Struck out looking virtually every time he was at bat this year and returned to the dugout in tears every time with his head held a little lower each time. He’s got some family problems and the whole situation is heartbreaking. And the head coach has 12 other kids and the team as a whole to run, so there’s only so much he can do.
If you know me, you know that I can’t let that be. These are the kids I HAVE to coach. I HAVE to bring them back from that hopelessness if I can, because 15 years from now, I envision him sitting in a job interview and remembering either all his failures, or one shining victory. So I worked with him. Not so much on his form as his mind. “There’s no crying in baseball.”, “You can do this.” “Hey you went down swinging. I’ll take that! You’re trying!”, ” to “Alright, contact with the ball. Good try!” Well today was the last game of the season. And Jumpin’ Joe (The name I gave him today because it sounded old-timey baseball-ish) and it became clear that my quest to help this kid had spread to the head coach who told me, “I brought two extra balls for the game today, If Joe and the other kid who was also hitless get hits. I’m gonna pull the balls for them” just like they do in the majors.
So, Jumpin’ Joe walks up to the plate and gets in his batting stance all gangly. His batting helmet is falling down over his eyes kind of, and his shirt is untucked. “Joe!” I shout to him and he dutifully turns around for whatever instructions I’m going to give him. “You can do it dude. Don’t worry about it. Just have fun. Just like batting practice…” He nods and steps up to the plate. And it dawns on me, he looks taller. No. He’s standing up straighter, his shoulders back.
You can probably guess what happened next. POW! There’s a worm-burner up the middle and through for a solid, clean base hit. And sure enough, coach stops the game and gets the ball for him. The kid on deck is Dylan, the other one with no hits. 3 pitches later, inspired, I believe, by Jumpin’ Joe’s victory, POW! he hits a duck snort behind the second baseman for a base hit. Sure enough, coach shuts down the game again and retrieves the ball much to the annoyance of the opposing coach.
Folks these two weren’t done by a long shot, Dylan went 2 for 2 and a walk, and Jumpin’ Joe went 3 for 3, 2 RBI’s and scored himself, And all were clean hits!
Now here’s the best part. If I made this sound like this was all my doing, it was not. And what happened after Joe’s third hit is what really drove it home, the rest of the team, all 10-year old boys, were going bananas for Jumpin’ Joe and for Dylan but in a way that made it clear that, to a man, they were genuinely thrilled for these two.
And so I watched trying to keep score with misty eyes, a kid not even my own who, at last, achieved a goal he didn’t believe he could ever achieve. And I think from the look in his eye, for the first time in a long time, truly began to believe in himself. And I think he’s got a chance at that interview, or asking that girl out, or taking that chance he might not have otherwise taken. Who knows? Maybe he’ll even go on to hit the game winning grand slam in game 7 of the World Series. Because I believe his future is open to him.
Here’s to you, Jumpin’ Joe. Thanks buddy for letting me be part of it. Godspeed dude!”
Brad has the foresight to know that helping these boys now will payoff in the future. He is supportive of his family, often putting their needs above his own. He takes the extra steps above and beyond what is necessary to brighten anyone’s day. He inspires me to work harder at being a better person. Thank you Brad, for being my friend.