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“For the Love of the Game”
There was a short moment of pure silence. The type of silence that reveals even the faintest, almost inaudible sounds like the scurrying of a mouse.
Then came the loud eruption of chaos . An explosion of cheering and relief, but also of booing and tension.
It was November 1st, 2010. A day to remember, especially in the case of San Francisco because the Giants won the World Series after fifty-six years.
A very lucky ten-year old boy named Daniel Jackson stood among the crowd experiencing history as it was unfolding before his bright, blue eyes.
“Are we true Giants fans, Papa?” Daniel said questioning his dad.
“Actually we have an impressive history when it comes to being Giants fans,” replied Mr. Jackson.
“Really? Tell me Papa.”
“Well, Grandma and Grandpa lived in New York during the 1940s and 50s. They were there for the Giants 1954 win. In 1958, the Giants moved to San Francisco and Grandma and Grandpa followed close behind in 1960.”
“Is that why you were born here in San Francisco?”
“How much did Grandpa like baseball?”
“He loved baseball, but not as much as you.”
“Really? He didn’t dream about making it to the pro-leagues and catching a winning save in the World Series just like Willie Mays?”
“I’m not sure about that. You’ll have to ask him yourself.”
The day after the Giants’ big win, Daniel and his fourteen-year old brother, Noah, went to the batting cages. Daniel, with only focus in his mind and on his face, came up with a routine of hitting ten balls and then running two laps around the bases. As he was running around the bases, he would cheer and shout pretending that he had just hit a homerun.
Noah looked at his little brother with an expression of annoyance and said, “You look like an idiot you know.”
“You look like an idiot you know,” mimicked Daniel.
“I don’t understand why you practice so hard. You’re never going to make it big time anyways with your condition.”
“And how do you know? I could be even more talented than Willie Mays one day.”
“Whatever. Just keep on dreaming.”
Noah walked away to the batting cages and decided to hit a few balls instead of watching a foolish, four foot nine kid fantasize about his future.
About two minutes had passed when Noah called to his brother, “Hey Daniel show me how weak your pitch is.” There was no response. Then Noah said, “Come on don’t be a chicken.” Still no response. Noah turned around and there was his little brother on the ground desperately gasping for air.
Noah ran to get Daniel’s inhaler as fast as he possibly could. As soon as Noah got to Daniel he frantically shoved the inhaler in his mouth and pressed it twice while repeating “come on Dan I love you” over and over again. Daniel began to promisingly gasp for air.
“I thought you weren’t going to save me,” said Daniel.
“I only did it so that I wouldn’t get in trouble with Mama and Papa for not watching you.”
“But you said ‘I love you’.”
“No I didn’t.”
“Yes you did.”
“No I didn’t!”
“Ouchy! My chest is killing me.”
“Okay let’s call Mama and Papa right now.”
Mr. and Mrs. Jackson arrived within a few minutes, both of them with panicked expressions on their face. Daniel continued to complain about his chest and so the Jacksons rushed him to the hospital.
“What’s going on Mommy?” asked Sophie, Daniel and Noah’s six-year old little sister.
“Nothing honey. It’s just that Dan’s chest hurts a little bit,” replied Mrs. Jackson.
“Oh I know why, because his heart’s getting bigger just like the Grinch when he turns good.”
“Your exactly right sweetheart.”
Daniel was admitted into the emergency room within half an hour. The doctor did some tests and it turned out to just be a build up of blood in his lungs from compensation of air restriction. The doctor said within a few hours of normal breathing, his blood would even out and his chest wouldn’t hurt anymore, but that they wanted to keep him over night just to make sure it wasn’t anything serious.
The next day the nurse came in with a letter for Daniel. He opened it and his blue eyes got bigger than ever. It was a letter from Brian Wilson saying, “Hey there sport! I heard your story all over the news and I thought I should send you a little message. Never give up hope. I had asthma as a kid too, but it went away and now look where I am. Keep up the hard work Dan! P.S. You don’t have to fear my beard.”
The biggest smile came across Daniel’s face and at that very moment, he knew he had a chance to make it as a professional baseball player.