Balancing Act: Her son needed someone to play catch with him. Her neighbor came through, and then some. A beautiful example of the best in us.

CHICAGO — It started with a post in a Lakeview neighborhood Facebook page.

“Looking for any baseball oriented individuals,” Carmen Cruz wrote. “I suck as a parent for even asking this but my son needs a little help honing in his baseball skills and I’m soo afraid of getting hit with the ball again.”

Brief pause to clarify that asking for help to meet your child’s needs is absolutely the opposite of sucking as a parent. It is, indeed, beautiful parenting.

Continuing ...

“Anyone willing to throw the ball with him 1 day a week please let me know,” Cruz wrote. “He’s a really cool 13 year old! I just don’t want to get hit!!”

Nikolas, Cruz’s son, plays baseball on the Welles Park Parent Association league. He loves the game and is determined to master the mechanics.

“I don’t have anyone else,” Cruz told me this week. “I’m a single parent. Lakeview is a really tightknit community in some ways, so I thought, ‘I’m just going to put it out there.’”

Ashvin Lad jumped at the chance.

Lad grew up playing baseball in Springfield and has coached youth baseball in the suburbs. He is, as he puts it, “single as can be; no kids,” and loved the idea of winding down his days with some catch.

“Her post brought out the inner child in me,” Lad said.

Lad connected with Cruz and they picked a Monday afternoon to meet on the turf at Blaine Elementary School. They threw the ball around for 45 minutes.

“I took video of him throwing and catching,” Lad said. “I showed him what he could be working on. He was really active, very engaged. He loves the game, loves playing the game, wants to be a student of the game.”

Another neighbor offered to play catch with Nikolas two days later, but that neighbor ended up having to cancel at the last minute. Cruz texted Lad.

“He saved the day,” Cruz said. “He grabbed his glove and showed up at the last minute, right before a conference call.”

(Lad is the vice president and co-founder of Breakwater Chicago, a floating luxury entertainment venue proposed for Lake Michigan.)

Lad and Nikolas played some more at Blaine that Wednesday. On Sunday, Lad made plans to take Nikolas to a different park — still in Lakeview, just a little farther east.

“His mom walked him down to my apartment and I met them outside,” Lad said. “We started walking east and he made some comments, ‘Man, a lot of people are out here in Cubs jerseys.’”

They walked all the way to Wrigley Field. Lad asked Nikolas if he wanted to take a picture together under the marquee. Third game of the Cubs/Cardinals series. Big game and all.

Then Lad pulled out a couple of tickets.

“Let’s go to this park instead,” Lad told him.

The players were still warming up when they took their seats.

“He looks at me and says, ‘Those guys are doing what you told me to do!’” Lad said. “I laughed, ‘Oh, now you believe me?’”

Nikolas was thrilled. He hadn’t been to Wrigley since he was 10, and it was pretty great, he said, to be there with his new friend/partner in catch.

“He told me how I could throw like one of the pro league players,” Nikolas said.

Zach Davies, Nikolas’ favorite player, had a great game that day. The Cubs beat the Cardinals 2-0.

After the game, Lad introduced Nikolas to his pal Miguel DeJesus, who manages the box office and, consequently, has a championship ring from the Cubs 2016 World Series win. DeJesus let Nikolas try it on.

“Holding a $70,000 ring in my had was pretty memorable,” Nikolas said.

Nikolas’ older brother also loved baseball. Cruz said she envisioned him mentoring and coaching Nikolas to follow in his footsteps. But he died close to six years ago, knocking their world off course and leaving a gaping hole in the family.

“We’ve been in a bad place,” Cruz said. “It’s hard to figure out where to reach out.”

Helping Nikolas find a baseball mentor felt like an important step.

“Ashvin has been a godsend,” she said.

Lad said he’s happy to share a game he loves with a kid who made space in his heart for it.

“The poetry, the nostalgia, the history of the game,” Lad said. “I love all of it. The way it’s evolved, from the equipment to the players to the strategy. The fact that there’s no clock — it can go on for two hours or 10 hours. It’s a thinking man’s game: What’s the pitcher going to pitch? What’s the hitter looking for? It’s poetry.”

He and Nikolas are going to keep meeting at Blaine.

“I just want to be on the same level as my teammates,” Nikolas said.

And I just want to be reminded that this kind of thing happens all around us, day in and day out. A mom finding the courage to ask for a hand. A neighbor lending it. A kid knowing the beauty of a grown-up’s time and affection. Joy taking root where tremendous grief also lives.

A beautiful example of the best in us.