Over the years of enjoying Greensboro Grasshopper baseball and writing this blog, I’ve been extremely thrilled to meet so many great people and make lots of new friends. Among these friends are Patrick Abbott and his son, Eli. Eli is a budding young sports photographer and memorabilia collector. Patrick is an encouraging and supportive dad. They’re semi-regular contributors to this blog. Earlier this week, the Grasshoppers provided Eli a wonderful experience about… well, let me turn it over to Patrick to tell the story.
Coaches Reaching Out To The Fans And Giving Back
When the season started, as usual we had no idea who the new players were or how the team would play together this season, but we did know that we had two returning coaches from 2012. My son and I decided that we would travel to Hickory on a Saturday night during the Grasshoppers opening series in April and check them out for ourselves. We even saw some familiar fan faces from Greensboro when we arrived. Saturday turned out to be a double header due to an earlier rainout. Between games my 7 yr old son Eli was approached by hitting coach Frank Moore about giving up his orange Hopper hat so he could wear it during the game. Of course, he refused to give it up. Frank continued in the months ahead to get his hat and was successful on a couple of occasions.
Last Saturday Frank offered Eli a chance to hit in their batting cage before the season was over. I didn’t give it a second thought until Frank called out to me after the game Sunday and suggested that I bring him out Monday night and before the game he would take Eli to their cages and let him swing away. I thought, “very cool” and come Monday evening Eli showed up at the game sporting his Hopper cap and wearing his batting gloves as he went through the turnstile. Frank showed up a short time later, guided him downstairs and for 20 minutes allowed him to take BP. When it was over they both walked out through the player tunnel together with Eli holding a new wooden bat that had been signed by all of the Grasshopper players while he was downstairs hitting what Frank had to offer. This took my wife and I totally by surprise. Needless to say Eli was so happy about his bat and BP experience. He has accumulated a lot of Hopper memorabilia including more player autographs and photos than any youngster needs, but being given this bat by Frank and for the players to take their time to sign it for him really meant a lot to the little guy and us. Now in his bedroom, among all of his other team memorabilia, the bat is by far the coolest.
We recognize that these players and coaches are only here for a few months and for the majority they’re off to continue their careers elsewhere after their season in Greensboro. Their priority is to play baseball and improve their skills, so when players and coaches take their time to give a little back to their fans, especially the younger ones, it means a lot. I hope that if my son should ever be on the other side of the fence so to speak, he will remember what others have done for him and give it right back. Thanks to Frank and all of the players and coaches for another memorable season of Greensboro Grasshopper baseball! You’ll surely be missed but we wish all the best in the future.
Patrick, thanks so much for sharing this story! It’s things like this that make it special to be a Hoppers Fan. I’m glad to hear that Eli had a great time taking BP, and that the generosity of the Hoppers organization made a good impression on him. That bat is a wonderful tangible souvenir, but I’m betting the memories that were made will be the highlight of the experience as the years pass on.
The Hoppers are winding down for the season, and let’s be honest — I think we’ll all be happy to put this one in the books. With just four more games to go — all away — the season will be over and the Hoppers will be watching the playoffs from their various homes. Maybe a few players will get shuffled up in the Marlins organization to help out some of the other teams at the end, but most everyone will scatter here and there, maybe playing some winter ball. Then comes the long wait until Spring Training, when we’ll be presented with a whole new team, possibly a familiar face or two, and a wonderful SAL leader board where every team in the league is in first place.
Edit: As Patrick pointed out in the comments, the Hoppers have one more home stand next week! I was looking at the calendar wrong when I wrote this. Oops! Hope I’ll be able to make it out to a game next week, and hope to see you there!