Here’s an amazing story from BEYOND BELIEF by Josh Hamilton:
There was a special-education student named Ashley Pittman who went to Athens Drive (High School) and worked as our bat boy/mascot. Ashley had Down syndrome, and he was one of the happiest people I’ve ever been around. He loved his job, and took it seriously. He dressed out in uniform for every game and came to most of the practices. I always enjoyed being around Ashley, and I considered him a friend.
One time Ashley came home with me for lunch and Granny cooked us some grilled-cheese sandwiches. This was a big deal to Ashley, and he was so appreciative you would have thought Granny bought him a new car.
We played in the state playoffs my senior year, advancing to the semifinals. We lost in that game, and afterward as we were riding home in the bus I noticed Ashley sitting by himself, crying.
I moved up to his row and sat next to him.
“What’s up, Ashley?” I asked.
He didn’t always understand why things happened on the baseball field, and for reasons known only to him he thought he was the reason we lost this game.
“I’m sorry, Josh,” he said. “I’m sorry I lost the game.”
This was ridiculous, of course. Ashley didn’t hit or pitch one ball, but I couldn’t put it that way for fear of hurting his feelings.
“Oh, no, Ashley,” I said. “No one person ever loses a game for a team. We win as a team and lose as a team.”
Immediately, Ashley’s face brightened. He stopped crying and smiled at me as the tears streaked down his cheeks.
“Does that mean I’m part of the team?”
“Of course it does, Ashley. You know that.”
His smile turned to laughter. He reached over and wrapped his arms around me, squeezing me tight with a big hug.
For the rest of the ride home, if you had looked at Ashley you would have sworn we just won the state championship.