Thu May 19 04:28pm EDT
Connor Echols, however, recently put a new spin on the tradition and brought an All-Star from his local Major League Baseball team, instead.
In what may well represent the pinnacle of modern technological achievement, the 14-year-old Cincinnati Flames third baseman (@cecholzz) was able to lure Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips(notes) (@datdudebp) to his U-14 select team game last week by issuing a simple suggestion over Twitter ...
"@DatDudeBP should really come watch the 14u Cincy flames in West Chester tonight"
... and then by providing some directions after Phillips showed some initial interest (he had been eating at a nearby restaurant when he received Echols' tweet).
A few hours and many autographs later, Echols was the most popular kid in the eighth grade and Phillips had increased his reputation around Cincinnati as one of the fan-friendliest players in the bigs.
It was about 5:45 p.m. when Phillips received Echols' invitation on his off day, the only one he and the Reds will have until June 2. Phillips said he was wondering what he was going to do with the rest of his day.
"I said, 'Let me think about this,' " Phillips said. "His game was at 6:15. When I got finished eating, it was like 6:10 and I thought, well shoot, I'm going to go to his game. I had nothing else to do. I thought, 'Let me go out and support the little man.' I went out there and he had a great game. I met all his teammates. I met everybody in the park. It was fun. I had a great time."
What makes this story even better is the fact that Echols had a great performance in front of one of his heroes, going 3 for 5 at the plate. "I don't really get nervous a lot, but that's the most I ever had butterflies in my stomach in my life," Echols told the Dayton Daily News. "I just didn't want to embarrass myself."
Man, if only it had been that easy to contact Ryne Sandberg when I was in Little League ...
But what goes unsaid here, of course, is that many of today's athletes get hundreds of requests via Twitter every day. It takes someone like Brandon Phillips — whose dedication to fans has been personally witnessed by BLS — to actually take it to the next level and do something that will forever leave a positive impression on those who buy tickets or spend their time watching the game on television.
It's a sign of appreciation from Phillips that even a St. Louis Cardinals fan has to love.
Big BLS H/N: Eye on Baseball
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