And I thought the World Baseball Classic didn't mean much to fans. For me it was a chance to see Cuban players, but for an American veteran it was much more. Via the Babalu blog comes this story from ESPN:
MIAMI -- Brian Finnegan was only doing his job on Tuesday night when he saw Felix Perez in the handicapped section of Dolphin Stadium. Finnegan's son, Tommy, had spent his life in a wheelchair battling cerebral palsy, and recently had passed away at age 20.
So when Finnegan, working security for the World Baseball Classic, realized that Perez was hoping some of the players would sign his American flag, he didn't hesitate.
"It was like divine intervention," Finnegan said. "In some ways I saw Tommy in Felix and wanted to help."
Finnegan took Perez's flag -- the one Perez carried with him through tours of Afghanistan and Iraq as a sergeant with the 82nd Airborne -- and brought it into a raucous clubhouse filled with American players who were wearing that flag on their chests. The players had just scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, the last two coming on a David Wright single, to avoid elimination at the WBC and secure a 6-5 win against Puerto Rico, and now they were partying together as a team.
Finnegan came into the clubhouse and announced that there was a veteran who'd love to have his flag signed.
"We said, 'Send him in,'" Jake Peavy said.
And proof that the Y chromosome is universal:
The players wanted to know what Perez thought of the win.
"You guys gave me a [expletive] heart attack," Perez told the big leaguers.
The room erupted into laughter and cheers.
The big leaguers spent less than half an hour with Perez. I can only guess at what Felix Perez was thinking, but I know I'd be blown away to be in that locker room after that white knuckle come back.
The ESPN piece gives Felix Perez the credit for the photograph in the locker room. Those major league players did the right thing, apparently without a professional camera in sight. Thanks for proving that some athletes do the right thing even when no one is looking.
Read Amy K. Nelson's piece at ESPN. And then tell me there are no good guys left in sports.