This afternoon, I spent the day at a Newark Bears game. Drew was one of the bat boys and there are a lot of games over the next few weeks so I plan to be spending a lot of my time there. Sadly, the Bears have not been able to draw a lot of fans but I wound up sitting next to a girl and her grandpa. I first noticed them buying their tickets at the box office. The girl was so animated! She was talking loudly and telling her grandpa how excited she was to be at a baseball game. Her grandpa was beaming as he witnessed her excitement. I smiled at them and got my ticket but realized I had left my umbrella in the car. It was drizzling so I ran back to the car before I went into the stadium.
I got to my seat, which was in the front row behind home plate. A great seat, but really due to the lack of attendance, you can sit anywhere. I usually don’t get settled in my seat until I know if Drew will be the bat boy for the Bears or the away team. He came out and told me that he’d be working for the Bears so I stayed in my seat. A few minutes later, the girl and her grandpa came down and sat a few seats away from me in the same row. The girl could not contain herself she was so enthusiastic! She remarked on how empty the stands were but told her grandpa she was so happy that they got there early so that he could get her such great seats.
She knew so much about baseball! She followed every play of the game. She cheered for the players by their numbers or their names. She yelled to the umpire when the fans thought he missed a play at the plate. She knew all of the terms and even cheered for the player who made a “pick off” to cause an out.
Throughout the game, she kept telling her grandpa just how happy she was and I heard her thank him over and over again. Partially through the game, she began talking to me. She told me her name and asked me mine. She introduced me to her grandpa. She asked me why they did not have many fans there, (to which I had no answer). She told me that she was from Pennsylvania and was visiting her grandpa while her parents were on a vacation. She told me all of the fun things they had been doing. She told me about her school and she was not there because it was summer I told her that I was a teacher and I was not there for the same reason.
She smiled through the whole game and it was contagious. I could not help but to listen to her and talk with her and smile. It made me enjoy the game even more than usual. When she heard that Drew was the bat boy, she clapped her hands with excitement. Being so close to the field, and having so few fans there, the players could hear her cheering for them. Drew is not allowed to give away balls during a game. Sometimes the balls get really scuffed up and cannot be used. There was one of those balls today that had been tossed to him by the umpire. Between innings, Drew passed her the ball and you would have thought she had just won the lottery! She was beaming from ear to ear!
You might be wondering why I chose to write about this in my blog today. I actually debated with myself whether or not to even write about it and what made me doubt myself because I don’t like to attach a stigma to anyone. The girl I have been writing about, had special needs. She had Down’s Syndrome. She told me that she was 18 years old. Not a little girl at all. An adult in fact. Working with all sorts of children for most of my life, I have become aware of how some people treat people with special needs. Some stare, some show pity, some are unable to see past the disability. Some are narrow-minded and have no idea of their talents. No one should ever be judged by how their brain works, or how they walk, or talk, or look. This girl was acting like any other “abled” person – because she was “abled”. She was much more knowledgeable than I was about baseball. I learned from her today. None of us should judge another person and I did not want this to come across that way. I was just so completely charmed by this young lady’s fascination with baseball! We talked through a few innings and her enthusiasm was contagious. I began cheering for the players along with her. I loved seeing the joy on her grandpa’s face as we clapped and cheered. It made me really appreciate how the little things in life really are not so little.