When I first married my husband, he bought me a book called “Basketball for Dummies.” He was an assistant men’s college basketball coach at the time. I was more interested in the team’s colors and cute apparel than in what was happening on the court. We clearly had some work to do.
I asked him to buy me the book for Christmas. I read it cover to cover. I still don’t know beans about basketball.
I figured that would be the only sport that I’d really have to pay attention to. I could fake interest at an occasional Super Bowl party.
Then came my boys.
My 11-year-old son, Charlie, has played center on his football team for the past 2 years. Since he was always in the middle of the field holding the ball, he was pretty easy to spot. This year, he came home and excitedly announced he would be moving positions. Something about receiving and catching and running and trying not to get tackled.
You guys, my brain can’t contain or retain sports information. I am trying. Truly. It just hurts.
I tell you this because I’m hoping you’ll give me grace when I share with you this touching kindness story that happened at a recent sporting event.
On a beautiful July evening, a throng of University of North Dakota fans flocked to Minneapolis for UND night at Target Field. The Twins were taking on the Orioles.
A family friend from north Fargo made the four hour road-trip so his boys could see a professional baseball game. One son is in sixth grade and the other is a freshman in high school. Both are big-time baseball fans. They were hanging out in the left-field stands watching batting practice when our friend excused himself to go to the bathroom. Wouldn’t you know it, that’s when the excitement happened?
Apparently, the outfielder caught a ball that came flying out toward the stands. He then turned around and threw it into the crowd, right to my friend’s older son. This was a big deal. The left-field bleachers were filled with hundreds of kids (and a number of adults) hoping to catch a ball during batting practice.
That ball would have looked awesome on my friend’s mantel. They probably could have gotten one of those cute, clear little boxes to keep it in. It would have been a special souvenir from a father-son outing.
It might be on a shelf somewhere, but it’s not on my friend’s shelf. That sweet, sometimes shy, often quiet 14-year-old boy caught the ball and then turned around and gave it to the little kid who was standing next to him. Not his brother. A complete stranger.
When asked why he did it, in a totally endearing teenage boy fashion he said something along the lines of “we have enough baseballs already,” and sort of shrugged.
The Twins went on to win that game. They beat the Orioles 9-6. There were even fireworks after the game. It’s too bad there isn’t a highlight reel for kindness, because that kid’s thoughtful action would have totally made him MVP of the game.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.