One Kid's Obsession

This post has nothing to do with crafting. It's about a how kid's love of baseball helped him save a team.

Back in June, I asked my son Mack if he wanted a birthday party. It's a necessary question because, unlike his older sister Masana, Mack can leave it or take it. He can have a big celebration with all the hoopla or he cannot. And being a baseball-obsessed kid, a part of him would rather go to a baseball game and simply spend his birthday sitting in the cheap seats with an extra large hot dog and cotton candy.

Mack at 5 years old.
This year we decided on a father-son baseball game birthday party and at first I thought it was a great idea. But then I realized that he would probably receive a lot of baseball related birthday gifts, which he could really do without. He already has several gloves, a huge bucket of balls, a collection of aluminum and wood bats, baseball caps from every baseball team he likes, and so on and so on. When he was five years old he wrote to every major league baseball team and in return received books, stickers, bobble-heads, posters, calendars, and a bag of dirt from the pitcher's mound. This kid didn't need anymore baseball "stuff." I gently asked Mack how he felt about a "no-gift" policy and was met with his best stink-eye. "That's a horrible idea," he flatly told me.

A few days before our birthday conversation, we had received an email from our school district regarding the elimination of several sports teams. The one team that stuck out for us was the Freshman Baseball team. And so when the idea of a "no gift" policy didn't go over well with Mack, I countered with a suggestion that we fundraise. We could collect donations to save the Freshman Baseball team. I pointed out that it affected him because that was a team that he would one day try out for. Mack got excited and said yes. We set the date and proudly sent out the invitations with "Help Save The Freshman Baseball Team" written in bold letters.

On the day of his party, we got to the baseball field and pinned up the t-shirts we made for the kids onto the chain link fence. We set up the dugouts with bags of Double Bubble chewing gum and the stands with popcorn and vats of Italian ices. Mack, his friends, and all the dads played a raucous game and had a lot of fun. At the end we collected the donations in a box and went home with smiles on all our faces.

Later in the evening I found Mack sitting in the middle of the living room floor and counting the money in the box. He seemed disappointed. He thought we would raise thousands of dollars. "There's only $260 in the box," he said and sunk into his elbows.

"But that's $260 more than what they had before," I told him. "And if every kid did what you just did..." I patted his head and gave him a kiss. He suddenly brightened up and ran upstairs. When he came back down threw some crumpled bills into the box. "It's now $267!" I laughed and gave him a hug.

We placed the bills into an envelope and Mack slipped in a note that he wrote to the school district:

"Dear Sir/Madam,

I had a baseball game birthday party and all my friends gave me money to save the Freshman Baseball Team. Go Tigers!

Thank you,

Yesterday we received an email from the school district letting us know they raised the funds to reinstate the sports teams that were eliminated due to budget cuts--including the Freshman Baseball team. They also wanted to let us know that they were especially touched by Mack's donation of his birthday money and invited him to present the raised funds to the Board of Ed. When Mack read the email, he smiled and said, "Let's do it again next year." Without saying anything else, he opened up his backpack and started doing his homework. And that's when I had to leave the room because I started to cry.

I realized that Mack grew up just that much more, and did so without really trying. His love of baseball extended past his own individual obsession and into an area known as compassion.

I love my kid and couldn't be more proud of him.