More often than not, when news breaks of a specific person in sports, it is due to something unpleasant. From BountyGate and news of Chad Johnson headbutting his wife in the NFL, to PED suspensions in Major League Baseball, it is rare that positive news, outside of a statistical achievement is broadcast. Even the Rays have not been immune to this, having had multiple minor league players suspended for amphetamines this season.
Then there is the story about Elliot Johnson, who took the time to respond to an invitation from a Rays fan named Chris Bell. Bell, on a lark, invited Johnson to come out to the parking lot where he and some friends were tailgating to play catch. Much to their surprise, Johnson responded, and came out before the game to throw the ball around. Not only did Johnson provide those fans with an experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives, but he also located them after the game, providing them with several game balls.
Stories such as this are a reminder that there are some good guys out there playing sports. While the players may go from team to team so frequently that fans are essentially rooting for the laundry, most people no longer have a chance to connect with the players as they had in the past. Now, regardless of where Johnson’s baseball future takes him, he has made fans for life.
Just by taking a few minutes of his time to play catch with fans before the game, he provided those fans with the experience of a lifetime. Elliot Johnson gets it. If only more players did as well.