I believe spending time with those less fortunate than one’s self is beneficial to both parties. I have learned valuable lessons from the game of baseball such as a strong work ethic, preparation, and perseverance. Yet these are not the most important things I have learned on a baseball field.
It was a beautiful summer day without a cloud in the sky. 18 of my fellow little leaguers and I are at the ball field, in uniform, warming up ready to play the game, but this is not a normal Saturday and it will not be a normal game. We are there not to play against each other but to help disabled children play the wonderful game of baseball.
As they made their way to the field, we could see that they suffered from different symptoms. Some were in wheel chairs, some had crutches, some were mentally handicapped, some we both physically and mentally handicapped. Every little leaguer was paired up with a special needs player and we broke up into two teams. My partner’s name was Hector; he was both physically and mentally handicapped. I vividly remember rolling Hector to home plate for his first at bat, and seeing the biggest smile on his face from just the anticipation of getting to hit a baseball. Seeing this smile on this innocent child’s face, I could not help but smile right back.
He hit the ball on the ground so I quickly ran him to first where he was called safe. He was ecstatic with joy I could hear little giggles of laughter coming from under his Cubs hat as we ran. The next batter hit the ball on the ground so I ran him over to second, again with little giggles the whole way. The game proceeded like this for the next five hours, more than double the time a traditional little league game takes but no one was complaining. We were having just as much fun as the special needs players.
Throughout the course of the game I would give Hector little pointers on fielding or throwing or hitting. It wasn’t until his last at bat when the advice worked. Hector was the first player all day to hit the ball out of the infield! I was so amazed at first I just stood there and watched the ball keep rolling and then I heard Hector yell something, which snapped me out of my trance and we ran to first. We were both ecstatic and slapped high fives but I was slightly confused inside. I had never been that happy for someone else’s accomplishment. Then it hit me, I was proud that Hector was my partner, proud that he accomplished something no other player did that day.
I know we were all a little sad to see Hector and his friends leave that day but we little leaguers learned a lot from those special needs players. I gained a newfound respect for the patience their parents have everyday. I learned to never complain about what cards God has dealt us, because those with worse hands don’t view it that way. I have learned to find joy in monotonous, everyday tasks and be thankful that I am able to do them. I have learned all this from spending that one day with Hector and his friends.