When 72-year-old Randy Long was cleaning out his garage not long ago, he came across some practice baseballs he used to toss around with his son and grandson.
Thinking a new generation of kids might get some use out of them, the Montgomery, Alabama senior took them to a local batting cage, where he left them along with a sentimental note that might just bring even the manliest of men to tears:
“Hope someone can use some of these baseballs in the batting cages. I found them cleaning my garage. I pitched them to my son and grandson for countless rounds. My son is now 46 y/o and my grandson is 23 y/o. I am 72 and what I won’t give to pitch a couple of buckets to them. They have both moved away. If you are a father cherish these times. You won’t believe how quickly they will be gone.
P.S. Give them a hug and tell them you love them every chance you get.”
Touched, Long’s grandson, Ethan Anderson, tweeted about his grandpa’s generous gesture. He never expected the post to go viral.
The impact of the story finally hit home when the family was contacted by the news outlets, but Anderson says while his grandfather is amazed by all the attention he’s getting, he really doesn’t have much use for social media.
“He is still not completely sure what Twitter is,” Anderson joked to ESPN. “[He] even calls hashtags ‘hashbrowns.’”
Anderson may be grown up, but he fondly remembers his grandpa as a thoughtful coach who helped him achieve his true athletic potential. “When I was a kid, we would usually go a few times a week to hit in the cages,” he recalled. “Many times, I didn’t even want to go, but he always wanted me to be the best player I could be.”
After the ESPN story broke, Anderson was nearly swept away by the wave of positive feedback. “I’ve had a lot of kids younger than me telling me they’ll cherish the times they have in the cages with their dads or grand-dads,” he told CNN. “How they won’t take it for granted anymore.”
Seems Anderson didn’t want to take things for granted anymore, either. “I get to go back and visit every now and then,” he said. “[I] just didn’t realize that he missed hitting in the cages.”
Although he’s since moved to Birmingham, about a two-hour drive from Long, Anderson has decided it’s time to team back up with his grandpa for a long-overdue batting-cage come back on a more regular basis.
“Love is the most important thing in the world,” legendary New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra once said, “but baseball is pretty good, too.”
We can’t argue with that call.