Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte surprised many when returned to baseball in March. The 39-year-old had five World Series rings, 240 wins, 2,251 strikeouts and three All-Star appearances on the day he announced his comeback. There was nothing left for him to accomplish.
Actually, there was. He had never inspired a blind 5-year-old boy to play baseball.
Obviously that wasn't Pettitte's intent, but the Times of Trenton in New Jersey has a wonderful story of how this happened.
Pettitte made a rehab start for the Yankees' Double-AA affiliate in Trenton on April 25. Andy Fass of Hamilton Township, N.J., attended that Trenton Thunder game with his family. As he walked in from warm-ups, Pettitte handed a ball to Fass, who is legally blind from oculocutaneous albinism, a condition with which he was diagnosed when he was 4 months old.
Fass needed to be told he was holding a baseball.
After the game, a family friend stuck around and was able to get Pettitte to sign the ball. Fass now owned property much of New York City would die for. And his baseball obsession was just beginning.
Jill Fass, Andy's mother, sent a message to the Thunder thanking the team for the surprising night. Some Thunder season-ticket holders had provided the Fasses with the first-row seats. (Katie, Andy's 7-year-old sister, was being honored at the game for an academic achievement.)
The Thunder public relations department enjoyed Andy's story enough to forward Jill's message to the Yankees. Soon after, two Yankee caps arrived at the Fass' door.
More good news followed. Fass' gymnastics coach gave him two tickets to a Yankees game. The game happened to be Pettitte's first 2012 start at Yankee Stadium.
Fass now has experienced life as a baseball fan, but he wants more. His next step: To be a player. In June, Fass plans on playing T-Ball indoors at the YMCA. Next year, his parents may even let him get a taste of baseball outdoors.
Baseball, though, was on the short list of what children with oculocutaneous albinism cannot do.
"When we were told about his condition, we went home and read two things. One, he'll never play baseball; two, he'll never drive," Andy's father, Marc, told the Times.
After a recent eye exam, the Fass family learned it could be possible for Andy to drive one day. If so, Andy may take part in both of the activities he was never supposed to. He has checked the first one off the list thanks to a little inspiration from an older Andy.