I noticed that although he always had a mitt, I had never seen either a ball or a bat. I smiled as I realized he didn’t need them. He had everything he needed for the perfect game. Something to receive the imaginary ball. The voice to thank his adoring fans. The persistence of a seasoned ballplayer on a hot summer day. And last, but not least, the ability to see the whole thing in a way I never could. Because on that night, and dozens more since then, I have seen the same thing happen. A man-boy with a leather glove and a field of fireflies believes that he is victorious. ~ Passage from “Honeysuckles and Fireflies” –Norris’ story
Every now and then, we are fortunate enough to come across a story about a unique individual who, without even knowing it, profoundly touches our lives in powerful ways. Several months ago, we at The Good in Sports found such a story and individual and what happened next was simply awesome.
Through the exquisite writing of Angie Smith, author of the blog “Bring on the Rain,” we and hundreds of others around the country were introduced to Norris, a 32 year old man with Down syndrome who loves the Atlanta Braves and lives for baseball. Angie’s narrative on Norris shows us a very special kid at heart whose fierce love of the game teaches us that
greatness comes from within and that winning is a mindset as much as it is an outcome. We were incredibly moved by both Norris’ heart and his unwavering passion for America’s favorite pastime.
The Good in Sports wanted to do something special. We learned that Norris’ dream was to one day play with the Atlanta Braves. What began as a simple quest to try to get a very special Braves fan an official jersey, blossomed into something bigger than we could have ever hoped for. We reached out to the Atlanta Braves and they reached back with big hearts and extreme generosity. The Braves invited Norris and his family to Atlanta for an exclusive experience with the team.
When Norris and his family arrived at Turner Field, they were brought down to the field to take batting practice with the team. Atlanta Braves infielder Brooks Conrad presented Norris with his very own official jersey with his name on it and welcomed him to the team. For this day, Norris was an Atlanta Brave. While on the field, Norris met Rookie of the Year contender Craig Kimbrel, Dan Uggla, and Martin Prado, who gave Norris one of his wristbands. Following batting practice, Norris and his family experienced a behind the scenes tour of the stadium and then enjoyed a great win by the Braves as they defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-1. Norris was in the stands when one of his favorite players, Dan Uggla, hit two homeruns.
The Braves made one very special fan’s lifelong dream come true and gave him an experience he will never forget. Norris was an Atlanta Brave and, on that day, a star. It was a priceless gift and a spectacular reward for someone whose childlike innocence, determination, love of the game, and belief in himself is an inspiration to ballplayers of all ages.
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