Brian Baisley loved to brag that his cousin was major-league umpire John Hirschbeck.
Every so often, Hirschbeck would leave tickets for Brian at major-league games, and that’s how it came to be that Brian and his uncle and godfather, Mike Comino, found themselves at Fenway Park last summer to see the Red Sox play the Blue Jays.
When the game was over, Brian wanted to see if they could meet Hirschbeck, who had been behind the plate that day. So Uncle Mike approached a security guard near the umpires’ room to ask.
Uncle Mike is a rugged sort of guy, and the guard wanted nothing to do with the matter.
But Brian was persistent, and he approached a different guard. It should be said that Brian was a gentle and gregarious sort of guy, and this guard not only agreed to call down to the umpires, he gave Brian a selection of Red Sox baseball cards while they waited.
Sure enough, they got to meet Hirschbeck briefly, and he gave Brian a few baseballs before Brian and Uncle Mike headed for their car to return home to Connecticut.
As they walked, Brian saw a family leaving the game. The father carried a young boy on his shoulders.
Uncle Mike knew what was coming before Brian even asked. He approached the boy, and not only asked if he’d like one of the baseballs, he let him have his pick of the two or three game-used balls or a brand-new, sparkling white Major League baseball he had been given by Hirschbeck
The boy picked one of the balls used in the game.
“It’s his sixth birthday, and it’s his first baseball game,” the overjoyed father said. “Now, he’ll never forget his first game.”
Brian Baisley died last week at age 32. He was a Special Olympics gold medalist, and a part-time assistant in the sports department at the New Haven Register. Uncle Mike told that story in a moving eulogy at Brian’s funeral.
Think about all the random acts of kindness that had to fall into place just right.
If Hirschbeck didn’t leave the tickets, the guard would never have been approached. If the guard didn’t call the umpires room, Brian wouldn’t have gotten the baseballs, and it’s not too far out there to think the guard’s gift of Red Sox baseball cards might have sparked Brian’s feeling of generosity that day.
And if Brian didn’t offer the baseball to the boy, who knows what might have happened. Maybe he would have become a lacrosse player.
Instead, Red Sox Nation probably grew that day.