Recently, the Wife and I had the chance to eat supper with Lucas May, Columbus Catfish outfielder that we sponsored last year. This year, the Wife and I aren't sponsoring anyone, because of conflicts would keep us from doing the job. But we've had the chance to spend some time with the players we sponsored last year, Dan Batz (now with the Greensboro Grasshoppers) and Lucas May (playing again for the Catfish).
It was great seeing Luke. We've watched him play this year ... but getting together with him hasn't been possible. Until recently.
Over supper, we caught up with what he's been up to since the end of last season, where he was on the DL the last part of the season in Vero Beach. And, while he had lots of things going on, one that caught my ear was his working with high school kids. He and another player team up and offer instruction to high schoolers back in St. Louis, where he lives. That's not all that uncommon, but not all players do it. But Lucas does. And he said he enjoys it.
That tells me something about people like him. Someone that shares his experience and knowledge with today's youth is someone special.
But there's more to it. You see, some of that work with youth is at military bases. Like the nearby Army post, Ft. Benning. Lucas and other players on the Catfish have spent off-days doing things for the kids in military families.
He said that he and the other Catfish players enjoy doing that. He gets a thrill seeing the joy in a child's eyes when the child is playing ball, practicing, and training with a professional baseball player. Oh, it's not just with pro players, but it's playing baseball. Some kids enjoy that. And many of the Catfish players get the opportunity to do that for the kids. Luke said he really has a good time doing that.
And, to me, that also says something about people like Lucas May and other members of the Catfish. They enjoy doing things for the families of our military. And, being ex-Army, I appreciate their doing that all the more.
Lucas told us that he got a little payback of the joy recently. This week, he had the opportunity to use the Weaponeer. For those that aren't familiar with what I'm talking about, it's a weapons similation system that's used for training soldiers.
I've used a Weaponeer system before. Good practice for the M-16A2 that I used in the Army. And Lucas really enjoyed using it. He was surprised at the realism involved with it, since it was his first time on the system. And he had a good time.
I'm glad he had a chance to be on the receiving end of a good time between the local baseball team and the local Army post and the family of soldiers.
He not only enjoyed the recent Weaponeer system training, he enjoyed sharing his baseball knowledge with the Ft. Benning kids. And I hope he knows how much that's appreciated.
Now, here's the thing that impresses me most about all this: The Catfish and the players haven't made a big deal about this. That is, if you check the Columbus Catfish Web site, you won't find any mention about the players putting on clinics for soldiers' families.
Oh, sure, the big area-wide clinics are mentioned. But those are the clinics held at the Catfish' ballpark, Golden Park. Those events are promotions.
What I'm talking about is the Catfish players going on post and having little clinics and such for military families.
The former (clincs at Golden Park for the whole area) is a "come to us" type of thing. It's a promotional event.
The latter ... what Lucas May was talking about ... are the "go to them" type of thing. They don't make a big deal of it. Because it's not for promotional purposes. Instead, it's a way for the individual players to do something for the military families.
To me, that speaks volumes about the type of young men that Luke and the other Catfish players are. Things like that are not why I like minor league baseball nor why I am a fan of the Catfish. But it is why I like those individual players and am a fan of those young men.