The Alaska Airlines 737 lifts off the ground from SeaTac International Airport and makes its way through 14,000 feet. On this brilliantly crisp, clear late afternoon day, the majestic Mt. Rainier rises through the soft, billowing clouds that are clinging tightly to the base like that of a young child to a mother. Sunday evening is a usual travel day for umpires as we finish the series with a day game and move onto our next assignment.
The flight attendant moves through the cabin skillfully with a small tray of red wine. As she stops at my aisle and slowly begins to place one of the glasses down, a teenager moves quickly and attempts to get around the flight attendant without slowing his pace. I am not sure where the fire is, but to a teenager seemingly everything is a four-alarm emergency.
The attendant politely warns the fleeing young man, “careful, I have red wine on my tray.” Without slowing and narrowly squeezing by, he responds “it’s all good.” I jokingly tell the attendant, “it’s not ‘all good’ when my lap is filled with red wine.” She rolls her eyes playfully and quips, “teenagers.”
Having a teenager of my own, I nod in agreement and begin reading an email I received earlier in the day. It is about a young man name Eric, from South Florida who recently participated in our Blue Crew Ticket Program at a Florida Marlins game. The program is an important part of the UMPS CARE Charities where we provide memorable baseball experiences for children awaiting adoption and kids in youth mentoring programs. Ronald A. Mumford, M.A. a recruiter from Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Adoptions writes:
“I would like to share this story with you. Last year, my client Eric refused to attend a baseball game. After questioning this young man he told me that he had never been to a baseball game and thought it would be boring. I assured him that if he went to the stadium he would have a good time.
After several follow up conversations with him, Eric finally agreed and went to his first game last year on August 1, 2009 to see the Marlins play the Cubs. He was thrilled to visit with the umpires and to go onto the actual playing field and take pictures. Eric enjoyed himself so much that he requested to attend another game. I obliged him and Eric attended his second Umps Care game on August 30, 2009. The crew of umpires were very engaging, and all the children had a great time.
Since then, Eric has been matched with a prospective parent and we should be finalizing his adoption any day now. Eric and his prospective father attended the Umps Care game this past Saturday. Hats off to Umpires Jeff Nelson, Jeff Kellogg and Angel Campos for their hospitality.
I am pleased to inform you that Eric is now playing baseball on a regular basis and in fact is an outfielder for his little league baseball team the Aventura Phillies. Thanks to the efforts of the Umps Care Program and Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, this young man has been exposed to the game of baseball. This has proven to be a wonderful opportunity for children to be exposed to the game of baseball and for Eric another avenue for growth.
Thanks for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our children.”
The teenager eventually makes his way back to his seat and the red wine is safe for the time being. I get one last glimpse of the sheer beauty of a snowcapped Mt. Rainier as it fades behind us. The sight of its 14,411 foot pinnacle cannot be adequately described in words by this author. And neither can the new dreams of a young man in South Florida.
Here’s to you Eric…..
Mike Di Muro is a 10 year Major League Umpire. He is the author of the official blog of UMPS CARE Charities. Please leave any questions or comments below.