It had the look of a classic day at the park.
Busloads of fans and then a special welcome.
Of course there was an anthem to get things started.
It looked like something special, and it was, but you see the best part had already happened.
“You know it started out we were just trying to find a way to reach out to Des Moines,” said AIB baseball manager, Chad Harris.
The AIB baseball team didn’t just reach out to the Scottish Rite Park Retirement Center, it spent every Friday there since November. Sharing stories, spending quality time.
For the residents and players alike, it was an immediate hit.
“We just started talking and chit-chatting all over the place,” smiled AIB's Isaac Novak.
“First thing they do is shake my hand!" laughs Judy, 94. "And we just get along fine.”
“Some people don’t get any visitors," said junior, TJ Pruneda, "some maybe a few times a year, but we were the most consistent faces they saw.”
“We older people value it a lot," said Frances, another Scottish Rite Park resident, "because a lot of the younger people don’t want anything to do with us.”
The skepticism melted quickly--to the point where Fridays with the boys were so anticipated that preparations began days in advance.
“We’ve been told that they line up in the beauty salon on Wednesdays and Thursdays just to get ready for us to come in on Friday!”
“They have developed friendships and favorites," said Scottish Rite Park marketing director, Berniece Hostetler, "and they get a little jealous once in a while if the young men go see someone else first. They think they’re cute; it’s just wonderful.”
So with the season and the school year over, the team invited the Scottish Rite Park residents and staff in for a little game--a special game. Complete with special seats, and special attention. To give thanks, and to receive them.
“That makes you feel real special," Fraces said, "that someone is interested enough to talk to you.”
“They’ve been just wonderful to me…and darling!" Judy said. "I just can’t get over it. Almost makes me feel like crying, they’ve been so nice!”
It was a good day to celebrate: new friends, old times, and the revelation that sometimes the greatest gift you can give someone, is your time.
“They’re not going to remember the 3rd inning of the game against Grand View," Hariss said, "they may not remember everything about the conference tournament, but they’ll remember this the rest of their lives.”