Happy Friday to all; we’re a week away from Memorial Day weekend and the New York Rangers are still playing hockey, so I’m happy.
So when you cover high school sports for as long as I did as a sportswriter, you learn that it’s impossible to project which of these kids might have a pro future.
Really, it’s a fool’s errand, because so many things can go wrong, or go right. Back in 2007 when I was working to the News-Journal in Daytona Beach, we had an incredible high school pitcher in our area named Michael Main. This kid was the real deal, straight out of central casting: He was big, strong, threw 92 miles per hour, could hit the ball a ton, and was just a born leader.
He ended up being drafted by the Texas Rangers in the first round, and we all thought he’d be in the bigs within a few years.
He never made it, thanks to a ton of injuries and poor performances.
Also on the scene in Daytona back then was a quiet kid named Jacob DeGrom. He pitched for a small private Christian school, and dominated small-school competition. I remember he was a really nice kid, with a supportive family.
Still, as good as he was, we were skeptical: If he were playing the big schools, he’d get lit up, we thought. DeGrom would end up being one of the millions of good “high school stars” who never amount to much.
Fast forward to 2014. Jacob DeGrom made his major-league debut with the Mets Thursday night, tossing seven sparkling innings and allowing just one run on four hits (he got the loss because the Mets offense stinks).
Really happy for him. And more proof that even a kid from a tiny school who gets doubted his whole life can make a dream come true.
**Next up today, this pretty much blew me away: An Egyptian table tennis player named Ibrahim Hamato is incredible at the sport, especially considering he has no arms. He holds the paddle in his mouth.
Seriously, watch this:
What in inspirational man. For more on Hamato’s backstory, check out ThriveSports.com (one of my employers) here.
**Finally today, hat tip to my sister Debbie for pointing this story out to me. An 8-year-old Pennsylvania boy named Christian Bucks had a terrific idea about six months ago: He wanted to create a “Buddy Bench” at his elementary school; a physical space where children who are lonely can go.
When other kids see someone on the Buddy Bench, they can ask them to play, have a chat, or just go hang out somewhere.
This one little idea has caught on across the world; there are more than 200 Buddy Benches now, in Australia, Japan, India and Canada, and across the U.S.
Christian has been honored by many organizations, and given service awards. He’s a terrific kid, as you can see by this story here.
Kids being nice to other kids. Such a small thing. Such a big thing.