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The baseball star and the bumblebee

Posted in Media by Matt at WelcometoIllinois on September 7, 2009

Albert Pujols, the St Louis Cardinals baseball player, has a daughter with Down’s syndrome, and so regularly crops up in my searches for news on Down’s syndrome. I’ve been reading a lot about him recently since he donated $70,000 from the Major League Baseball Players Trust to help open a a center to assist adults with Down syndrome.

Pujols also operates the Pujols Family Foundation which provides support for people with Down syndrome as well as impoverished children and orphans in Pujols’ native Dominican Republic.

He’s clearly a caring and compassionate person, as proven by this story about the extra care and attention he paid to a Cardinals fan injured trying to catch a ball at a game in August.

But the St Louis Today article is not really about Pujols. It is about that injured fan, Tim Tepas, who was injured trying to catch the ball for his son Keith, who also has Down’s syndrome. In Tepas’s bag was a unsent letter written to Pujols sharing his feelings about Down’s syndrome and doubt and acceptance. The St Louis Today article is also ostensible about coincidence – about how Tepas’s unsent letter sat in his bag while Pujols led the other players and coaches in ensuring Tepas was okay, before reassuring Tepas’s son and ensuring he got his game ball.

What the article is really about, for me, however, is a father’s love for and commitment to his son. That unsent letter detailed their own private baseball season:

“Three days a week, Tepas picks up Keith and they head to a little league field. Tepas pitches from a box of old balls. Keith wields the bat. The father keeps stats, tracking the progress of his son like he is a major league prospect. The father notes with precision how many balls Keith hits over the fence, how far they travel. He walks off the distances to be sure.

“With the number of home runs, the father can see his son’s growth. Keith is not tall, standing just under 5 feet 2. But he has a slugger’s swing. Two home runs the first year, eight the next, then 26, 53, 97 and 94 so far into their private season.”

I’m sure I am not alone in being moved by that story, but it was Tepas’s comparison with the humble bumblebee that really did it for me: “According to the laws of aerodynamics, the bumblebee can’t fly. But the bumblebee doesn’t know that. So it flies… Like the bumblebee, [Keith] doesn’t know that he’s not supposed to fly.”

Pujols is obviously the focus of the article, and he deserves a lot of credit. But the real star is Tepas.


2 Responses

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  1. Baseballbriefs.com said, on September 7, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Baseballbriefs.com tracking back The baseball star and the bumblebee…

    Baseballbriefs.com tracking back The baseball star and the bumblebee…

  2. rickismom said, on September 8, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Thanks for posting this!

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