Each summer FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Reading Fightin’ Phils, is filled with fans hoping to see the baseball stars of tomorrow and get an autograph or two. Three times a season the stadium is not filled with typical fans, but with school fieldtrips.
“School Days,” as the employees refer to them, are mid-morning, mid-week games held in late May and early June. The pre-game festivities focus on Science and Music as the stadium promotes education, but all of the teachers and students are there to have a good time.
Donna Guy, a fourth grade teacher in the Coatesville school district, has attended School Days for the past several years. This year she was inspired to bring the joy of the fieldtrip home, and purchased team baseball card packs at the stadium. Each student received a card and was instructed to write a letter to the featured player and send the letter, baseball card, and a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the stadium.
The students were skeptical: why would a professional athlete bother to respond to them? Still, each student, and their teacher, harbored some hope that the letters would be received and read, so they sent them and waited.
About a week later, a student Mrs. Guy described as “quiet and withdrawn” marched into the room and up to her teacher with her arms outstretched, her hands clutching an autographed baseball card. Her player had responded, the first of many players to respond.
“She was so happy,” Mrs. Guy says, reenacting the moment with a huge smile on her face. “I’d never seen her smile so much.”
For the player, signing the card was a simple gesture that didn’t require much time or effort. For the girl, the simple signature told her she was important. For the teacher, the signature created a smile that will live forever.
Minor league sports are filled with moments like these, but the moments get lost among all of the prospect rankings, statistics, and game recaps. These moments are why fans fall in love with sports, and these moments are why they will always come back to their local minor league ballpark with their children and grandchildren. This site will attempt to capture moments and stories like this one, and allow us all a chance to look at the human side of sports, instead of the numerical side.