(Jonathon M. Seidl) “Dear Section 113, Row 17, Seat 22.”
That’s how the open letter from Sarah Kooiman to a man at a baseball game in Milwaukee starts. And while many open letters usually end with a grievance, this one is different: it ends with a heartfelt thank you for what the “mystery man” did at the game.
Kooiman is a mother of three young boys, and on Sunday she and her husband took the kids to a Milwaukee Brewers game at Miller Park using tickets from her husband’s job. She was nervous.
“The weather was absolutely perfect for a day at Miller Park, but my anxiety level was still high because – let’s face it – I was bringing THE CHILDREN,” she wrote on her blog on Monday. “Not just the big kids, not just one of them, but all three boys. Together. At the same time.”
And her fears were somewhat realized.
“Isaiah was jacked up for his trip to the ballpark and his behavior reflected that,” she explained. “Every thirty seconds came pleas for cotton candy, sunflower seeds, popcorn, ice cream, balloon animals, face paint, and other such nonsense. Micah behaved like, well…..Micah and Thomas didn’t have a seat so he was basically crawling all over the place for the entirety of the game.”
Surrounding fans, she worried, would be upset. But that’s when she noticed a man in front of her who appeared to be on a date being anything but annoyed [emphasis added]:
But you were not annoyed by the number of times you were jabbed in the back as Thomas crawled like a monkey from seat to seat. Instead, you turned around and frequently engaged in conversation with my children, proclaiming that Thomas would be stealing his big brothers’ girlfriends in about 15 years so I had better be ready.
You couldn’t have been older than 24 or 25 and you were clearly at the ballpark yesterday to spend some time with the lovely young woman you had your arm around. Still, you made it a point to chat with Isaiah and encourage him to try to catch a foul ball and even took it upon yourself to race him down to the Brewers dugout three times in the middle of innings in the hope of getting a game ball tossed his way. You promised my son, “We will get you a ball, kiddo.” (For the record, Daddy also brought Isaiah down there and struck out as well.)
Later in the ninth inning, she explained how the man brought young Isaiah down to the dugout one more time and promised to get him a ball. But alas, it didn’t work. No ball.
Then came the surprise.
“That’s when you knelt down and gave him a Milwaukee Brewers baseball,” she wrote. “His eyes lit up, he took it from you slowly and you told him, ‘Hey, I promised you a ball.’”
“Thank you for what you did for my son at Miller Park on a beautiful Sunday afternoon,” she said. “As we were preparing to leave the stadium, I reached out my hand to offer my sincere thanks for your act of kindness. To my surprise, you pulled me in for a hug.”
It all shows the importance of small acts of kindness, Kooiman said:
It can be so easy to forget sometimes how small acts of kindness can have such a huge impact on our fellow humans. Holding open a door, offering a seat on a bus or subway, paying for a stranger’s coffee. All teeny little choices that can become a bright spot in an otherwise difficult day.
But you did more than that, sir. You made my boy feel like a rockstar. You didn’t have to. You chose to. And I am sincerely grateful to you for it. When my wiped-out children were tucked into bed last night, I took a few minutes to thank God for you. I asked that He bless you and draw near to you wherever you were. I prayed that the Lord would encourage you and honor your kindness by bringing joy to your heart.
Now when Kooiman originally posted the letter early Monday she had no idea who the man was, and she was hoping to find him. Well, thanks to the new age of viral media, within hours she had a name.
“I went to work at 4:00 this afternoon and put my phone in my purse while I waited tables,” she wrote in an update around 10:30 pm Monday. “When my shift was over, I looked at my phone and was surprised it had not actually blown up from the amount of Facebook messages, Tweets, and emails that had been bombarding my inbox. And among them? The name of the Mystery Man who had given Isaiah the baseball. As soon as I had a chance, I sent him a message on Facebook to personally thank him for the extra mile he went for us.”
In another update less than an hour later, she said they had talked via Facebook messages.
“I have successfully contacted the person who gave Isaiah the ball via Facebook and he is being very gracious about this whole thing,” she wrote.
Kooiman initially didn’t want to give out his name on her blog, but she did identify him to local TV station WTMJ-TV. His name? Chad McLaughlin.
You can read Kooiman’s full letter over at her blog.