WASHINGTON — One week ago, Drew Jackson, 12, attended a Washington Nationals game with his mom. Plucked from the stands by Nationals’ Community Relations Manager London Hitchman, the pair went upstairs to his office for the gift of a lifetime.
He was given a Nats tote bag that held three things:
- A Denard Span Nationals’ jersey
- An envelope containing a picture of AT&T Park
- An envelope containing a picture of an airplane.
And then it all made sense. And Jackson cried.
Jackson met Span four years ago when the latter was centerfielder for the Nats. During his time in D.C., Span was a pillar in the community, focusing on nurturing youngsters like Jackson.
The two had plenty in common, with both coming from single-parent homes to play baseball, where they were both left-handed centerfielders.
Span hosted hundreds of youth at Nats games in Jackson’s position but found a special bond with him. The two stayed in touch via his mother’s Instagram account and Span promised to fly Jackson to a game in San Francisco after he left for the West Coast.
This was his opportunity to make good on the promise. Via the San Francisco Giants blog:
On Monday morning, Drew — in his №2 Nationals jersey — reunited with his favorite player in the Giants’ dugout before their game against the Nationals. His mom and grandmother snapped pictures and beamed.
“Hey!’’ Giants coach Shawon Dunston cried as he walked through the dugout. “He’s got the wrong uniform!’’
Denard laughed. “We’re going to let it slide today — because it’s got Span on it.’’ (Soon a Giants’ clubbie emerged with Giants shirts and hats for Drew and his family.)
In addition to paying for flights, tickets and a hotel stay at the Hilton in San Francisco, Span and his wife also treated the pair to a steak dinner.