Last year my ten-year-old son Garrett and I were at the College World Series and watched the Titans lose to Stanford and fall one game short of the championship series. We waited at the gates and congratulated the players on a great year. All the players we asked were gracious enough to take a picture with my son and thanked us for our support.
Of all the players, we noticed Kurt Suzuki was crushed the most. However, he put on a smile (through the tears) and took a picture with my son. After which he stated that this would not happen next year.
Once we got back home, I blew that picture up and hung it on my son’s wall. I told him that even in defeat, Kurt (along with Chad Cordero, Shane Costa, etc.) took the time to take a picture and thank us for our support in making the trip. I told my son that this is the how a good athlete accepts defeat, with dignity and class.
One year later we made the same trip.
This time the Titans beat South Carolina (the same game of the series they were eliminated in last year) and made it to the championship game. We were there again to take pictures with the players. Once again my son took a picture with Kurt.
This year Kurt was just as gracious and thankful in victory as he was in defeat (as were all the Titans). That picture is hanging on my son ’s wall right next to last years.
This has become a lesson my son will never forget. Even after a crushing defeat if you believe, with work hard, and try your best, good things will usually happen. Even if you start off 15-16, never give up! My son never gave up on the Titans this year, and they succeeded when few (ESPN) thought they could.
Prior to going to Omaha my son and I would huddle up next to the computer and listen to some of the games over the Internet. My son would tell me that Kurt didn't like losing last year and he is not going let the Titans lose this year. He was right. Kurt had an outstanding season and helped to guide the Titans to the CWS.
Once again, he faced adversity by not having the kind of hitting series he would have hoped for, but he persevered and his hard work paid off. As my son told me, "In the CWS he never gave up and came through when it mattered the most, in his last at bat." I told him that the team wouldn't let him down either and gave him the chance to have that last at bat with the game on the line.
Kurt, if you are reading this, thank you for being such a great role model to my son.
Click on photo for a high resolution version
Titans Kurt Suzuki still manages his signature smile, posing
Salcido after a tough loss in the elimination game at the 2003 CWS
2004 Johnny Bench Award winner Kurt Suzuki again takes
a picture with Garrett, this time during the 2004 CWS