This boy has an enthusiasm for life that is contagious. He knows every fact about every shark species on the planet. I've learned most of those facts over dinner, during car rides, while brushing my teeth, and while folding laundry. This boy has a thirst for knowledge. He's had that thirst since the day he could understand the words being thrown at him from everyone around him.
When this boy loves someone he loves them with all that he is. When this boy loves something, he doesn't stop until he knows everything there is to know about it.
He doesn't do anything half way. He's all in, all the time. Some people see a smart boy. They may even see a boy who picks up on math easily. I see him though. I see the boy who works really hard. I see the boy who has a great curiosity about outer space and alternative fuel. I see a boy who knows more about sports statistics in his short nine years than his mother could possibly learn in a lifetime. I see a passionate learner. I see a boy who loves to have fun. I see a boy who loves me, but still rolls his eyes at me from time to time.
I see a boy who has to work harder on the baseball field than his peers. I see a boy who doesn't mind that he has to work harder. I see a boy who genuinely rejoices when he sees a teammate hit a home run. I see a boy who questions his spot on the team when he misses the out. I see a boy full of self doubt in the back seat when he knows it was that out that cost them the game.
I see a boy who strikes out more than he gets a hit, but that same boy steps up to the plate every single time with hope, determination, and pride. I see a boy who comes home from a game and stays outside until dark to practice his swing. He certainly doesn't do this because we ask him or tell him to. He does it because of that determination. He does it because of his respect for his coach and his teammates. He does it because of his love for the game.
I see a boy who doesn't fit the mold. I see a boy who has never heard someone tell him he's such a natural. I see a boy who I believe in, a boy who I know will keep working hard. I see a boy who will never quit and will work until he gets the out, and he gets the hit.
This boy has been using a marker to cross off day after day on his calendar for months. He's been counting down for this very day. This boy got that Aaron Judge jersey for Christmas, but it's been sitting in his closet waiting for today. I picked him up from school and during the short ride home he talked to me about how excited he was to watch The Yankees on opening day. There was a time when excitement over this might have caused me to roll my eyes, but today I saw a boy who has a great love for baseball and his excitement was contagious. Today I saw a dreamer, I saw a little boy looking up to players who were once sitting on a couch with the same excitement.
I don't think you can ever be good at something you don't love. It doesn't matter if you are a natural or not, if the love is not there neither is the talent. Teams win and lose. Players have good games and bad games. There will be home runs, strike outs, missed calls, celebrations, and disappointments. Throughout all the unknowns of baseball season, one thing remains the same, and that is this boy's undying love of America's favorite pastime. I hope he never stops dreaming. I hope he continues to step up to the plate with great determination. I never thought I could love a sport so much, but he taught me that I can. How could I not?