As a reporter, and now an editor, I’ve gotten to meet a lot of very interesting people. Both Sheridan, and my former Chicago stomping grounds, are full of fascinating people — and most of them are not famous or well-known.
In Chicago, I met President Barack Obama, though at the time he was a senator from Illinois. I met other politicians, actors and higher-ups at Chicago’s institutions.
But, the most interesting person I ever met in the Windy City was a little boy who attended the camp at which I worked as a counselor. The camp was for kids age 4-12 and focused on teaching kids how to play baseball, basketball and soccer.
Most of the time was spent playing other games with just a little of the sports fit in because the kids just didn’t have the attention span to focus on one task. This kid, Sam, was the only one who constantly asked me if he could skip the game of capture the flag and instead practice hitting and throwing a baseball — oddly enough he didn’t care as much about catching it.
He was 5 and could barely hold the standard issue bats the camp gave us for all of the kids. I asked him almost every day why he wanted to play baseball instead of play with the other kids.
He didn’t answer for months — he would just scrunch up his face in a sign of determination and ask me again if he could practice.
I usually gave in. Baseball is one of my favorite sports so this kid got a lot of tips and encouragement. I figured if he had this kind of determination and desire to practice already he was going to be a rock star.
He got frustrated often — missing the ball, fouling it off the tee or throwing it 10 feet to my left. But, he got better and by the end of the summer he was hitting better than a lot of the 12-year-olds at the camp.
On the last day of camp for the summer, I asked again why he always wanted to practice baseball.
He finally told me.
His dad was deployed in Iraq (this was in 2007) and had asked him to practice his baseball so that when he got home, they could play. Not knowing the love I’m sure his dad had for him, he told me, “If I’m not any good, he won’t want to play with me. Then he’ll leave again.”
Kristen Czaban is managing editor of The Sheridan Press.