“It was really cool...a grand slam.”
Those were the words of a ten year old patient at Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children who unexpectedly met Matt Capps and Ryan Zimmerman on Tuesday.
Noah recently had his appendix removed but he’s eager to get back out on the baseball field. The young first baseman, who tries to emulate both Albert Pujols and Ryan Zimmerman, wanted to know what it took to become a major league ballplayer.
“You just tell them to have fun and work hard,” said Zimmerman.
“It’s pretty amazing with all the stuff they are going through that they are thinking about baseball. It’s good to hear that they’re not sitting there thinking about what’s wrong. They are thinking about what they are going to do when they get out and that’s pretty special.”
Zimmerman and teammate Matt Capps enjoy visiting children at area hospitals. They played games, colored, talked with patients, signed autographs and gave out t-shirts, caps and bobbleheads. They even autographed a cast.
“I just think it’s very special when these guys take time out of their busy schedule to bring joy to these kids here,” Noah’s mother Beth said of the surprise visit.
“It made a very tough situation much better. When I told him some Nationals players would be visiting today, his face just lit up.”
Both men worked hard to get the children to open up and ask them questions. Some children drilled the duo about the World Cup and the Redskins. Others told them about their own baseball teams and All-Star games.
“Sometimes they are a little shy but you can tell they are excited. It makes them feel important. It’s a good feeling,” said Capps.
“You just see their faces light up and brighten their day up a little bit. It’s unfortunate the situation that they are in, but if I can make somebody’s day just by showing up, why wouldn’t I.”
Zimmerman and Capps have teamed up to visit children’s hospitals before and they’ll continue to do so throughout the season. It’s a high priority for each of them.
“For me, to make them have fun and forget about [their illness], it kinda puts things in perspective. We play baseball -- a game -- and these kids have to go through this stuff, it makes you realize how lucky you are,” Zimmerman said.