Friday, May 4, 2012

What Being Part Of A Host Family Really Means

From Clinton Riddle, Guest Contributor

MAY 4th, 2012-There are some experiences in life that can only truly be appreciated if you jump in head-first, without any consideration as to what to expect or how to handle them.

Being part of a host family, however, is not one of them.

Kyle Hallock pitching in his first Class A game
Before the 2012 season started, hosting a minor league player was not something that frequently crossed my mind. My biggest concern was (and has always been) whether or not I could help out my player consistently and sufficiently, always being there when they needed help for any reason, whatsoever. Being a massive baseball fan (both in terms of my interest and, of course, sheer personal bulk), I also wondered if I could maintain the objectivity required in what can often be a roller coaster season for the team and for individual players. This became even more important to me after I was accepted to Global Sports Bureau as a scout in their organization; you definitely have to be careful not to let your personal feelings overrule your objectivity concerning a player's true potential. These issues weighed most heavily on my mind.

Alex Todd lets fly with the bat
Now that I'm a part of the host family here in Lexington for our Legends, I've come to realize that those concerns were certainly warranted, but to a much lesser degree than I had expected. The key to this personal revelation is the word "family".

You see, that's precisely 
what we are for these young men; while they're here with us, we're their family. Being an adopted child, I came to understand a definition of family very different from what others may believe or understand. I've always considered my closest friends part of my family circle, for example. There's no blood relation there, but it doesn't matter. To me, when we have the opportunity and the means, we're family to one another. When I have a friend in need, I treat them exactly as I would my own family. That means whatever they need, if I am able, I will meet that need.

Because that's what I believe, I can tell you this: while these players are here in Lexington, they are part of our family. That's how I feel.

Jason Chowning on the day the players met their host family and had their
first team practice
This year, I have had the honor of hosting SS Alex Todd, while Heather has hosted RHP Jason Chowning and (until recently) LHP Kyle Hallock. These young men have been nothing but polite and appreciative concerning our efforts to meet their needs, and both Heather and I consider ourselves fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of their lives. Whatever transpires on the field, I've never looked at them as if they were only players to be scouted; it's kind of what it must feel like to watch a younger brother or even a son (I am 37, after all) chase a dream. And through their ups and downs so far this season, we've both tried our best to be there for these guys. To me, it never feels like it's enough. I wonder to myself if this is, in a small way, what it might be like to be a real parent. I think maybe it is.

Anyway, I'm very happy that I am able to be a part of the lives of these young men as they work toward their dreams. They sacrifice so much in their pursuit of a goal so difficult to obtain, and I think they deserve the best we can give them. I hope we never let them down. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

2 Daytime Games and a Roadtrip

On Sunday we attended what was my first daytime Legends game. Perfect baseball weather followed by a perfect farmers sunburn. I was pretty exhausted, having worked all night and gone from work to church to the game; and Clinton was sick, but it was our Kyle's home opener as a pitcher and neither of us was missing that for anything. We actually got to see all three of our guys play Sunday and that was very cool. Wednesday was an insanely early game..10 in the morning. It was Education Day for the Legends and there were dozens of school buses in the parking lot plus thousands of children in the stands. The ratio of kids versus adults attending this game was unreal. I had fun with Clinton's professional camera and ended up take 889 pictures. Yes..that's right. Just under 900 pictures of a single game. I wasn't randomly snapping pics, I was trying to get the very best shots of each guy to be able to send to them and their families. I love hearing from all the friends and families as they discover my it!

I heard from Alex's family this week, and I'm looking forward to meeting them in person sometime :) They are very proud of him and they should be! He is a great kid with this amazing personality. All 3 of our guys are so different from each other but each awesome in their own right. Before the season,  I wondered which players we would get and wondered if they would like us, if they would be friendly guys, and so on. All I can tell you is that we have been blessed :) We spent time with all three on Wednesday during the Away Game Sendoff, talking fantasy baseball leagues, current and past ballplayers, and oh! Lol. It is Clinton's very favorite subject. I spent time with the camera, trying to get shots of each of the host moms with their players.

Our goodie bags this week were sweetened up with my homemade chocolate chip banana bread, and blueberry cheesecake muffins. I made more of the pretzel white chocolate m n' m mix, because Alex said they were a hit last time. I had some giftcards to Subway a good friend gave us so I got each of the boys a big sub of their choice to go with their bags of snacks  (peanuts, chips, granola bars, sunflower seeds, trail mix, crackers, etc) I also told them their was a prize in their bags but they had to find it lol ( it was an itunes giftcard for the road). So far the most requested items for their bags has been drinks (powerade and gatorade), fruit, and lunch meat w/bread to make sandwiches. I am going to try to buy a small cooler before our next away games, to be able to provide more of that lunch type stuff to go with them. The guys told me that lunch is an issue on road trip, and that not having to buy lunch would help a lot.

I wasn't able to listen to the radio tonight but a
quick congratulations to Alex for his RBI, Kyle for the great win at Kannapolis and to Jason for getting a save two nights in a row!!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Alex's First Homestand as a Lexington Legend

Welcome to the Family

Welcome to our our host players Jason Chowning, Alex Todd, and Kyle Hallock. Our kids are mighty glad you are here!

This weekend was the first homestand of the season for the 2012 Legends. On Thursday we were able to see Alex play shortstop and Jason Pitch. Friday we saw Alex again on short but on Sunday it was all 3 of our boys together... Alex on 2nd, Kyle the starting pitcher, and Jason pitching as well. How exciting!

Friday was just an awesome, awesome night. What a night!  The man of the hour was  Alex Todd, who ended the extra innings game with a walk off homer - an amazing hit! The kids were so proud of their host brother and loved meeting their other host brothers..Jason Chowning, and Kyle Hallock as well. :) P.S. thanks Jason , for refusing to autograph their foreheads like they asked :) I appreciate that! :)

Having the kids get to meet the guys after the game was so touching. We brought two neighborhood boys, neither of which had never even been to a baseball game before. They, along with my youngest son and my niece cheered hard for Alex during the game and couldn't wait to meet them all afterwards. Noah (my 10yr old) was amazed at how tall the players all seemed, and was pleased to claim that Alex and Jason even look like him, lol. He said Kyle looks more like me. Ah..the silliness of youth!

Kyle was very sweet to all of the kids, and took the time to talk to them. Jason was his usual fun loving self and later, when he realized that two of the kids didn't end up with game balls, he went inside and got a ball for each of them and he was the first to autograph the balls for them.  All of the kids had quite the story to tell when they went back to school today. One of the neighborhood boys claimed it was the greatest day of his life and he is going to be a pitcher like Kyle and Jason someday.

Now that the players are home, they are getting settled into their new places and I'm in waiting see what they need for their apartments. I was able to send home food on Thursday and Friday for each of them. I sent my homemade chocolate coca cola cake, and my lasagna casserole. I made sure to send huge portions because every minor league players usually comes attached to a little something called roommates and I wanted there to be enough to share.

Congratulations to Alex for His Walk off Homer to End the Extra Innings Game!

(WHITAKER BANK BALLPARK, Lexington,Ky.) Alex Todd's home run in the bottom of the 11th inning gave the Lexington Legends a 6-5 win over the Kannapolis Intimidators Friday night at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
Todd, who had three hits in the game, drove a pitch from Kannapolis reliever Steve McCray over the bleachers in left field to win it for the Legends, who had trailed 3-0 until they rallied with five runs in the sixth inning.

See the rest of the article here...  Legends Official Recap

Alex is in the top 5 on the team in Avg, OBP, RBI, HR, and SLG. .. He is #2 in Slugging percentage! Way to go Alex!

Jason pitching vs the Kannapolis Intimidators