WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Accuracy matters. Especially if you’re in the unique position of being a sports talk radio host in Washington, D.C.
Among the thousands listening to the latest goings-on regarding the Redskins, Capitals, Wizards and Nationals, daily, while circling the Beltway Monday through Friday, also tuning in is one young D.C. native of particular import.
He’s listening, and remembering.
Alec Tongour, of Northwest, D.C., is like many preadolescent boys growing up in the area; he plays and watches baseball, roots fanatically for the Nationals – even went to spring training to see them play earlier this year.
But unlike the others, Alec possesses a very special gift.
If you were to ask Alec, say, ‘What was the score of the Nationals game on Sat., July 12?’ — much as 106.7 The Fan radio hosts Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier recently quizzed him — he’ll tell you, ‘It was against the Philadelphia Phillies, and it was a 5-3 [win].’
As you stare back in wonderment, without being asked, Alec will next inform you, ‘It was also a base hit by Ryan Zimmerman, who gave the Nationals the lead in extra innings.’
Zimmerman did in fact drive in the go-ahead run in the tenth inning of that game, scoring Denard Span from second to give Washington a 4-3 lead. Jayson Werth would score on a wild pitch later in the inning.
To emphasize how far removed that game is from memory, for most, Rafael Soriano earned the save on three straight strikeouts.
For Alec, though, who obsesses over the game of baseball – absorbing stats and info like a sponge – it’s as fresh as remembering his name.
He’s not always right (as you’ll see in the accompanying video), just mostly right. In baseball terms, he’s probably batting .900 – a Hall of Famer, the greatest to ever play the game.
Son to Mike and Lalie Tongour, Alec is the middle child of three; 14-year-old Jack, his elder, and 10-year-old Stella, his kid sister.
He’s a sixth-year student of The Lab School of Washington, which fosters an environment conducive to children with learning challenges, like Alec’s, nurturing their self-esteems with positive affirmation. It is embracing of the idea that not all children learn in the same way, and treating them as such will allow them to capitalize on their exceptionally rare talents. That certainly can be said for Alec.
His appetite for baseball is satiated daily by a steady diet of MLB Network, 106.7 The Fan, and anything and everything informative about the game into which he can sink his teeth, including, more recently, Ken Burns’ nine-part aptly-titled documentary series, “Baseball.”
In July, Alec traveled with his father to Baltimore for the originally scheduled final game of this year’s Beltway Series, a four-game home-and-home between the Nationals and Orioles. Baltimore would win, 4-3 (and with Game 2 postponed until August, due to rain, Baltimore then led the series 2-1).
Alec – decked out in Nats regalia, his father recalled – had taken the loss noticeably hard, prompting a Cleveland Indians fan who happened to be in attendance to impart some encouraging wisdom as everyone made their way out of Oriole Park.
“We’ve never won a World Series, either,” the man said.
“You won in 1948 and 1920,” Alec quickly corrected him.
Alec’s parents first began to recognize his gift around the time he was three or four years old.
“Like when I would forget things,” his father summoned an example. “And he would be able to tell you, not only the details of things that happened in our lives, but the dates.”
All Alec has known is life as a Washington Nationals fan. His fifth birthday party was held at the team’s first home, RFK Stadium, in 2005. He threw out the first pitch before a game at Nationals Park in 2011. The family even took a vacation to Montreal, recently, so Alec could familiarize himself with the organization’s largely forgotten roots.
Naturally, he’s accustomed to them losing, having endured more of it – roughly five percent more — in his lifetime than Nationals wins.
After Washington was eliminated in the NLDS by the San Francisco Giants Tuesday night, fans undoubtedly rushed to judgment — of the players, manager, and unrelenting baseball gods.
Even Jack, Alec’s own brother, was inconsolable after the loss.
But if you ask Alec how he will remember Oct. 7, 2014, he will be quick to tell ya’: “We had a lot of fun and watched a great season.”
Alec is 12 years old.
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