On Saturday morning, former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra will join the famed Jared from Subway at Volunteer Stadium -- site of the Little League World Series -- for a simple reason.
"For me," he said, "there's no greater joy than seeing a smile on a kid's face."
So before he goes into the television booth to broadcast the United States championship game later in the afternoon, Garciaparra will be on the field at the Little League World Series presenting a donation from Subway and hanging with players from the Challenger Division, which is a program for physically and developmentally challenged children who want to play baseball or softball. The donation will go toward covering the travel expenses of the two teams that made it to Williamsport, Penn., one from the Chicago area and the other from near San Francisco.
"These kids, you see them out here, the challenges that they have to live with in their life on a daily basis, every single day," Garciaparra said Friday. "To see them come out and see the smile on their faces -- because I'm sure there's not always smiles on some of their faces because of what they have to live with -- to see them come out here and truly enjoy this, and see the smiles, and see the enjoyment that they have, and see these wonderful people that are their buddies that are taking the time. It's not about money, it's just about time to go out there and make sure these kids have a smile on their face."
Each player has a "buddy" who helps him or her play the game, and Garciaparra said he'll be meeting, hanging out, and taking pictures with everyone involved before they play an exhibition game to begin the penultimate day of action at the World Series. Come Sunday they'll crown the world champ, and finished for the year will be a tournament Garciaparra said is one of his annual baseball highlights.
After all, it's a place where smiling kids abound.
"It's something that's really so hard to put into words, the enjoyment these kids have when they come to Williamsport," Garciaparra said. I tell people it's on their bucket list if you're a baseball fan. You walk in with a smile because everybody's smiling, and enjoying, and having a good time watching these kids play their hearts out, make great plays, and do the little things that we all remember as a kid playing.
"When you leave here, you leave with a smile. It has that atmosphere, and it exudes that everywhere in this place."
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