Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Julia Meets Ryan Howard

Ryan throws out the first pitch
Julia had a special treat today, and I was fortunate to be able to take a day off from work to see it; she met Phillies superstar slugger 1st baseman Ryan Howard.

We had gotten an email a couple weeks ago that Ryan Howard (or the Phillies, or someone...) had been  put in touch with the Challenger League, a group of special needs kids playing little league softball, and that Ryan Howard would be coming to a special game there were organizing. The plan was that he would show up, take some pictures, say a few words, and then hang around for an hour or so while the kids played.

Julia was excited, and concerned that it would be rained out, but we got lucky with a nice warm but not overly hot day, and it was somewhat overcast which made it not seem too bad under the sun for a few hours. Ryan was on time, the event went off in a pretty organized fashion, notwithstanding all the extra people that had come out of the woodwork for this particular game. He came out, said a few words, threw out the opening pitch, and then stood around on the field chatting with and encouraging the kids.
Julia leads off the game

The challenger league games are non-competitive, with each player on each team getting to bat once in each of the three innings. Everybody gets to run the bases, and everybody scores. Obviously, they don't keep score and it has nothing to do with winning and losing, but just having fun and being active with their peers.

Julia - pleased to be at third base
This special occasion was a one inning game. Julia was the very first batter, and grounded a sharp single to right field. She had a blast. Somehow in and around all the adults taking pictures, they actually managed to finish the one inning, and then there was some time for pictures before Ryan had to leave.

It was a very nice day for Julia (and the rest of us). Ryan is a big big man. And very nice with the kids. It is often overlooked how much time some of these guys spend in the community doing things like this, and it is nice to be able to recognize those who do. I also have to admit that Ryan has been my favorite Phillie for years now, and while I think my days of hero-worshipping athletes are long since past, it was still nice to get to say hi to him. Thanks, Ryan, for coming out to the game!
Julia with Ryan Howard

As an aside, the Phillies are playing the Braves tonight at home, and Ryan crushed a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning... He is coming off a ruptured achilles tendon last fall, and missed much of the season this year, but he is back playing now. He doesn't look great yet, but he's getting there. He did have a very noticeable limp at the event today. Hopefully that gets better with time.

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