MADISON, Ala. - Babe Ruth once said, "Baseball was, is and always will be to me the best game in the world." 11 year old Brett Potter of Madison would agree with Babe. Finding anyone who loves the game more than Brett, well, you’d probably strike out. It’s his favorite sport. “Yes it is,” the youngster said with a smile. He loves the game because, as he puts it, “It’s fun to play.”
And playing the game is almost as much fun as playing catch with his dad, Eric. The two love going to major league baseball games. “It's just the enjoyable thing to have between me and my son,” Eric said. They’ve been to 24 of the 30 MLB stadiums so far.
Brett was born with achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism. Being a little person has its challenges but Brett doesn't let it keep him from doing what he loves. “No, not one bit,” he said. There’s no obstacle too big to get over. “No,” he said. “No challenge is too big for me because I can do anything.” He worked hard and earned a spot on Matt Kimbrel's travel baseball team. Last weekend, he got an RBI his first time at bat.
But perhaps his biggest play so far involves a single baseball. It sits in a protective case on a shelf in the family living room. It’s on a tour of major league baseball stadiums. “The first one we threw the ball at was in Anaheim,” Eric said. “The line was extremely long and Brett said hey, can we play catch? And I had a ball and my gloves in a bag and I said okay, we don’t have anything else to do, let’s just start playing catch.”
That was 17 stadiums ago. “We’re trying to do every stadium with it,” Eric said. With 18 down and 12 to go, in baseball terms, Brett and his dad are batting 600! The ball wears a different kind of autograph. “I actually intentionally throw it and let it bounce a couple of times just so we can have a scuff mark or a piece of dirt from every stadium,” Eric said with a smile. It’s called character.
Each stadium has a memory, like the trip to San Francisco. “The ball went over my head because he didn't make a good throw,” Brett said smiling and glancing over at his dad. It went under the stadium fence. “I had to ask the police officer for it,” Brett told me. “And he had to open up the whole stadium again and they gave it back to me.” He wasn’t going home without the ball.
Brett and his dad will probably retire the ball when they play catch at the final stadium on the list. “I can just look at the ball and say that I’ve played at every stadium with my dad,” Brett said. That’s what you call the great American pastime.
By the way, Eric Potter grew up watching Royals games with his dad. So when his son was born, it was just natural to name him for one of his favorite players, George Brett. And yes, Brett did get to meet the major league player. He said that was pretty cool.