Hot enough for you? This recent heat wave—with the temperature reaching triple digits here in Western Massachusetts earlier in the week—has made me a tad cranky. Excepting my bedroom, in which I installed an air conditioner in the window on Tuesday, my abode is like a sauna. But it could be worse. Much worse. I could be a 14-year-old battling cancer, needing blood transfusions and other treatment just to stay alive. The following story from the Boston Globe provided me with a healthy dose of perspective and warmed my heart in the process:
Powerful gift at tough time
A couple of hours before the Red Sox played the Giants June 26 in San Francisco, Darnell McDonald came in from shagging flies to say hello to a small group gathered by the first base dugout at AT&T Park. The Sox outfielder shook hands with Sam Callahan, a 14-year-old boy battling Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone/soft tissue cancer that targets teens.
McDonald asked Sam about baseball. Turns out Sam is a switch-hitting shortstop/pitcher who last summer played Pony League ball near his Campbell, Calif., home. McDonald asked Sam how he was feeling. It was not a particularly strong day for Sam (he went to the hospital for a blood transfusion and a 48-hour stay later that night), but Sam told McDonald he was feeling great at that moment. McDonald gave Sam baseballs signed by Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Jon Lester, and himself.
“It was humbling for me,’’ remembered McDonald. “We tend to get caught up in how tough things are around the team, and here’s this kid battling cancer. We took to each other right away. I told Sam to keep battling. I told him he’d be in my thoughts.’’
After a few moments, it was time for McDonald to get into the cage and hit. As McDonald was saying goodbye, Jim Messemer — a family friend — pulled out a “Sam’s Team’’ blue wristband and gave it to McDonald.
“Wear this today and you’ll hit a home run,’’ said Messemer.
Everybody had a good laugh about that. We’re all familiar with the iconic American tale of Babe Ruth promising to hit a homer for a sick kid named Johnny, but these things do not happen in real life. John Updike famously reminded us that a home run cannot be hit at will. And Darnell McDonald is not a home run hitter.
“I’ll do the best I can for you today,’’ said McDonald.
Imagine the look on Sam’s face when McDonald came out of the Red Sox dugout in the top of the first inning, wearing his “Sam’s Team’’ band on his left wrist. Then try to imagine the joy and wonder in Sam Callahan’s heart when McDonald swatted Madison Bumgarner’s third pitch over the fence in left. [more…]