On September 11th we took six girls to a San Francisco Giants baseball game. It was a first time experience at a ball game for all of them which made it even more special.They rooted for the home team as if they had been fans for years. Plus the Giants won!
The names of the girls in the story have been changed to keep them protected.
The Fall breezes were making their way through our downtown streets, nature trails and ball parks, but the bright days of Summer would linger for 6 girls rescued from seasons of torture and exploitation. A tint of Autumn had entered the Summer sky from our position on the third deck of the stadium. We’d walked the route from the dugout to our seats with autographed balls twirling through the fingers of newly formed fans. They couldn’t help looking at their baseballs, gripping them, and finding safe keeping for them like a newly discovered treasure for the next 9 innings.
The usher guarding the dugout had sent all the fans on their way back to their seats as soon as we arrived. “We’re here to get these girls autographs,” I insisted. The girls filled the 3rd row, held their baseballs excited, posed for a picture and patiently waited 10 minutes for Tim Flannery, the third base coach. Tim then got each of the baseballs covered with San Francisco Giants signatures.
Few moments in life get to be held as heaven on earth. Times with those you love usually make the cut. When Tim Flannery walked out into the dugout with Jeremy Affeldt on his cleats, the moment registered as heavenly. These two men were ready. Ready to use their position in baseball to stand on the platform for those enslaved. I introduced each girl by name. They savored each one. The girls knew they were loved.
Innocence is restored when children are treated as they should be. It took but a moment for Tim Flannery and Jeremy Affeldt to hone their attention, with the same intensity they watch a base runner or a batter , on the faces of children whose lives don’t look the same as most of the children who hover over the edge of the dugout. Evie’s blue hair brushed over the side. Evie asked Tim a question and he enjoyed her honesty. Tanya’s sparkling eyes, Josie’s warm smile, Sophie’s innocence, Cheryl’s curiosity, and Angie’s laughter spilled from the stadium steps they were reaching from into the hearts of these two men. We avow it would be just what the Giants needed that day to pull off a late inning victory.
The men stood as long as it took, passing balls to and from each other and the girls. A fan came down to share in the fun and yelled something at Jeremy. Jeremy looked up and said, “Hey, I’m talking to someone.” Flan found every lovely and beautiful adjective to call the girls. He wanted to know how they were. He later would e-mail me and thank me for the gift we gave him that day. It was our pleasure. Leaving the dugout Jeremy and I shook hands, “Keep fighting the fight ,” he said.
The girls cheered in the stands under the signs that read “Timmy’s Giants” with a full view of the Bay, the bridge and all the beauty a day could bring. All Josie thought about for weeks before the game was waving a big rubbery finger , so one of her staff obliged her with a Giant orange one. They rooted for the home team as if they had been fans for years. They were nervous for the players up to bat. They insisted on seeing a home run. They asked questions only the minds of children could wonder about. They had licorice and French fries and popcorn and peanuts. In the seventh inning stretch they did indeed stretch and they sang “Take me out to the ballgame.” And we are grateful we did.